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Naïve to think Alberta won’t come back strong

"For those who have boldness and vision, this is probably exactly the time to act.”
Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

There is lot of negative press about Alberta right now, but it is naïve to think that the province that has led Canada’s economy for the past decade will not come back stronger than ever.

It is also shortsighted of investors not to take advantage this year. We recall 2008 – the last time oil prices fell – and the quick payback for savvy investors who bought into Alberta back then.

Arnie Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, perhaps said it best last month in Edmonton as he announced the start of Marriott’s $36 million luxury hotel, its first in Alberta.

“For those who have boldness and vision, this is probably exactly the time to act,” Sorenson said.

Alberta has certainly never lacked boldness or vision: Its small population established one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in North America and it overcame stupendous odds to become one of the world’s largest oil producers.

In 2014 half the full-time jobs in Canada were created in Alberta and even with oil prices tanking, the province still now has the third-lowest unemployment rate in the country.

This is because Alberta is about much more than oil. Only 7 per cent of Albertans work in the oil and gas industry: more Albertans are employed in construction, health care or professional scientific and technical services. According to the University of Calgary, Alberta has the most diverse workforce in the country in terms of how employment is spread through sectors.

RBC Economics forecasts that by 2017 Alberta will be clicking with a GDP growth of 2.7 per cent, tied with Ontario for second-best in the country. Last year the real gross domestic product in Alberta, at $316 billion, was worth more than the GDP of all the Atlantic provinces and both other Prairie provinces combined. And this year looks even better.

Alberta tourism, manufacturing and agriculture are all booming as the Canadian dollar weakens. The beef industry alone is enjoying its fattest time in years.

But let’s look at future global oil production. Of the big producers, which do you think offers the least risk and most stability: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Russia or Canada? Thought so.

The smart money is on Alberta this year, and for decades to come.