Like it or not, the oil sands and the industry they supply are here to stay — and for good reason, argues Macdonald-Laurier Institute Senior Fellow Philip Cross in a paper titled A national project: How oil sands investment and production benefit Canada’s economy.
The oil sands are a Canadian innovation success story that provide major benefits to Alberta, but to Canada as a whole as well, he shows. Cross’s paper analyses what effects would occur if both investment and production were to increase by $10 billion each.
The results are significant. He estimates that if investment were to increase by that number, more than 81,000 jobs would be created, of which over 20 percent would occur outside of Alberta, and this would result in an over $6 billion boost in labour income.
And if production were to increase by $10 billion, labour income would grow by over $3 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs would be created, with a third of the job creation occurring outside of Alberta.
While the oil sands are a great example of wealth creation and an impressive source for innovation within our economy, Canadians have not sought to emulate the lessons to be learned from this success story, Cross argues, ultimately concluding that:
“The oil sands are a uniquely Canadian success story and an increasingly rare example of innovation in Canada. To protect the large investments already made in the oil sands against its demonization by its opponents, further innovation will be required to further lower operating costs and emissions. The track record of relentless innovation by the industry suggests such an outcome is eminently possible.”