As Finance Minister Travis Toews plans to unveil an updated provincial economic outlook, the Grande Prairie—Wapiti MLA suggests that diversification may be the key to turning around an economy bludgeoned by a COVID-19 pandemic and global downturn in energy prices.
Despite Western Canada Select oil prices rebounding from historically low prices in March, Toews says other major revenue-generating sectors, such as tourism, tech, and forestry may be linchpins to getting the province back on a more steady financial path. He adds the Grande Prairie region could be ripe to help lead the charge.
“We live in a region that is chock-full of entrepreneurs, and we are fortunate to be able to attract individuals who are innovative, resourceful, self-responsible, and folks who take a risk and ultimately create wealth. I’m going to suggest that creating the most efficient, competitive business environment is key.”
Toews says the doubling of capital infrastructure funding, which will allow for up to $1.9 billion in projects earmarked by municipalities, could also lend a hand in getting the economy back on track. He adds one key to the plan is continuing to upgrade vital highways, especially in a region like Grande Prairie which relies on heavy transport.
“It is important to have the right infrastructure in place, and that’s one reason why we announced the Highway 40 twinning. We know how important that road is in terms of economic capacity, but also in terms of tourist traffic in the upcoming years.”
It’s expected the updated economic outlook will be released to the public by the end of June.