Whether you live and work in Alberta or another resource-rich Canadian province, you may not realize just how closely resource jobs are related to our high-tech economy.
Think about it: in Alberta, where some 264,000 people are directly or indirectly employed in oil and gas extraction, harnessing energy takes a huge amount of continually-evolving technology.
From new mining techniques to improved data analysis to better communications to greater efficiencies in transmission, the relationship between the energy and high-tech sectors is absolutely crucial to an understanding of either sector’s continuing success.
Now look west to B.C., where you can easily make a similar analogy: the B.C. forest sector makes a giant contribution to that province’s economy, supporting more than 140,000 total jobs in the province (direct, indirect and induced) and almost $13 billion in GDP.
Looked at another way, B.C.’s forest sector has generated fully one in 17 jobs in the province, while roughly one in four provincial manufacturing jobs comes from the manufacturing sectors of the B.C. forest industry.
Forestry has, since the very beginning of the high-tech industry, been one of the key consumers of B.C.’s high technology.
And let’s not forget Alberta’s forest industry that adds some $2.6 billion to the provincial GDP. Forestry in our province generates annual revenues of more than $6 billion from harvesting operations and the manufacture and sale of lumber, pulp, newsprint, wood panels, engineered wood products, bio-products and ecosystem services.
Both provinces have long been committed to supporting research and development focused on increasing the value of forest products through higher utilization, greater sustainability and other markers that are in part highly reliant on sophisticated technologies.
It explains why organizations such as InnoTech Alberta and C-FER Technologies, both subsidiaries of Alberta Innovates, are so successful in offering scientific, engineering and technological research to industry. From oil and gas to agriculture to environmental technology, the link between our natural resources and our high-tech sector has never been stronger.
So when you read natural resource numbers as significant as those for energy and forestry (just two sectors of many), you can be very sure that high-tech is alive and well in the natural resource economies of both Alberta and B.C. All you have to do is look!
Cody Battershill is a Calgary Realtor and founder/spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer organization that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.