Diversifying the Economy and Workforce of the Future

March 17, 2017

Alberta Budget 2017

According to the Government of Alberta's 2017 Budget, the economic outlook for the province is beginning to look more positive – though the impact of more than two years of low oil prices will not quickly be ameliorated. While real GDP is expected to rise 2.6% over the next year, it is likely to remain below 2014 levels until at least 2019.

Given the turbulent economy, it's not surprising that Alberta's unemployment rate was significant in 2016 at 8.1%. Budget 2017 predicts that Alberta's unemployment rate will remain high over the next year before starting a gradual decline to 6.3% in 2020.

Ongoing efforts to support jobs creation

In 2016-2017, the Alberta Government introduced a two-year $250 million funding package to support jobs creation in the province, encourage capital investment from Alberta businesses, attract new business to Alberta, and support regional economic development and access to skills training. Budget 2017 listed a number of initiatives being driven by the Ministry of Economic Development of Trade as part of the second year of this funding, including:

  • Implementation of New Tax Credits: Funding of $71 million to implement two tax credits programs – one to encourage investors to support eligible small and medium-sized enterprises in Alberta, and the second to encourage businesses to make capital investments.
  • Support for the Alberta Enterprise Corporation: Funding to support the Alberta Enterprise Corporation's mandate to spur innovation, help companies grow, and increase employment opportunities.
  • Encouraging New Business Investment: Funding of $13 million to attract and support new businesses and to promote regional economic development.
  • Supporting Training and Workforce Development: Funding of $14 million to support new apprenticeship and training opportunities.
  • Ministry of Advanced Education Funding: Ministry-specific funding of $46 million in Budget 2017 for apprenticeship delivery, including funding to expand apprenticeship opportunities to help unemployed apprentices finish their training.

Advancing the Petrochemicals Diversification Program

In early 2016, the government introduced a Petrochemicals Diversification Program focused on helping develop a broader petrochemical industry and natural gas mid-stream sector in order to help diversify Alberta's economy and create new jobs. The 2017 budget noted that facilities supported by this new program reflect a potential capital investment in Alberta of approximately $6 billion.

Read more: Staying the Course on the Carbon Leadership Plan – Alberta Budget 2017

Expanding Market Access for Long-Term Prosperity

Tangential to job-specific funding mentioned in the 2017 Budget, the government of Alberta also noted plans to support the diversification of Alberta's energy markets by seeking intervener status related to any legal challenges associated with the Trans Mountain Pipeline and by continuing to work with the federal government and provinces on the Energy East proposal. The expectation is that access to a broader number of markets should help spur the economy and support sustainable job creation long term.

Read more: Infrastructure Spending Meant to Stimulate Economic Growth – Alberta Budget 2017

If you have any questions about how Alberta's 2017 Budget might impact your business or how you might be able to take advantage of Alberta's job creation programs, please contact your local BDO office.

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