Alberta Just Put Together an A-Team of Experts to Help Create an Economy of the Future

Alberta is facing a tough economy as the prolonged oil price slump continues. Job losses in the province reached 19,600 in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. Other challenges include falling GDP growth, rising downtown vacancy rates, and a sluggish housing market.

To address these challenges, the provincial government recently assembled a task force of experts for its new Energy Diversification Advisory Committee, to give advice on how to build a more agile and resilient oil and gas sector.

Energy minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd hopes diversification will help smooth the roller coaster effect that comes with commodity prices. “We can’t live in the past. We need to build an economy of the future,” she says. “No other place in the world has the incredible range of energy resources that Alberta has, and we need to take a good look at how we can better use it all to create more jobs and investment for Albertans.”

Joining the Committee as co-chair is GE Canada’s Jeanette Patell, Government Affairs and Policy Leader (Energy), alongside Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. Five other people sit on the panel, including entrepreneurs, First Nations business leaders, and energy industry experts.

The committee’s primary focus will be on expanding the province’s downstream sector, as well as exploring opportunities in hydrocarbon processing and the petrochemicals sector. The key question the committee seeks to answer, according to its mandate, is: “What additional steps can Alberta take to build a more diversified and resilient energy economy that works with industry and communities to create jobs, moves the energy industry up the value chain, and diversifies the energy industry into new end products?”

McCuaig-Boyd says Patell, with her mix of energy industry expertise and policy development know-how, is well suited to guide the panel: “Anyone who knows Jeanette, knows she’s a leader.”

For her part, Patell is excited to bring her expertise to her work with the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee. “Strong collaboration and partnerships, a focus on speed, specifically bringing new innovations to market quickly, and a view on the future is key,” she says. “Out of this, we want to create opportunities for the province to be well positioned for success in tomorrow’s economy.”

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