Canada’s natural resource and manufacturing sectors can provide up to 2.6 million jobs and a 17% jump in GDP to guide the nation’s economic recovery through the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report issued Wednesday.
The Task Force For Real Jobs, Real Recovery released its independent report, Securing Canada’s Economic Future, along with 19 policy recommendations that include developing a national low-carbon energy grid as well as a national hydrogen industry, and supporting the potential of small modular nuclear reactors. The report also calls for a range of tax credits and incentives for research and development on tech innovations that lower industrial emissions and advance government climate goals.
“We need economic solutions that punch above their weight. It’s the only way to address the significant fallout to our economy caused by COVID-19,” said Stewart Muir, Executive Director of Resource Works, which convened the task force.
“Projections are for our economy to shrink from 6 to even 7 per cent if we see a second wave in 2020. The good news is that the resource sector can be our engine of growth, while we continue to take meaningful climate action.”
The task force included Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, who served as an advisor. Northeast B.C. lost more than 5,000 jobs this spring during the first wave of the pandemic, and Resource Works says its task force represents more than a quarter of a million businesses and three million workers.
The task force report says resource industries directly contributed $236 billion to Canadian GDP in the first quarter of 2019, or 11.3% of the economy.
And because resource workers are paid the highest average annual salary of any sector, their pay will help generate demand for goods and services that will drive employment in other sectors including retail, real estate, entertainment, hospitality and tourism, the task force said. An investment in a single oil and gas job creates up to six other jobs, it noted.
The task force report was supported by economic modelling by Dr. G.K. Fellows. Under the right conditions, it says increased capital productivity and reduced trade costs could mean up to 2.6 million new jobs, and as much as a 17% jump in real GDP, yielding nearly $200 billion in potential increases in wages.
“Collaborative and ambitious leadership by the federal government, with alignment across all levels of government, stands to unleash the full potential of natural resource industries,” Muir said.
“We are hopeful that the federal government will review these recommendations with us and begin implementing them as fast as possible. We simply have no time to waste.”
The policy recommendations, which will be presented to the federal government, also include calls to improve consultations with First Nations communities to resolve land claims and secure investments, and to increase the Indigenous natural resource workforce.
The resource sector hires twice as many Indigenous employees and pays on average twice as much in wages as other sectors, according to the task force. And Indigenous-owned businesses are 40 times more likely to be involved in the mining and oil and gas sectors than the average Canadian business, the task force said.
“The reality is that the resource sector is foundational to Indigenous people’s success,” said Karen Ogen-Toews, a councillor for the Wet'suwet'en First Nation and CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance who also served as an advisor.
“It helps to provide jobs for people in their communities, provide family-supporting wages and empower our nations increasingly as co-managers. If we are going to come back from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need these opportunities.”
Read the report below:
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