Ben Nelms/Bloomberg

With a windfall from higher oil prices, will Alberta lose sight of its innovation agenda?

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was triumphant when he addressed a Calgary business crowd earlier this month. “Alberta is back,” he said, as he laid out the rosiest economic projections the province had seen in years. 

He had reason to be optimistic. A recent surge in oil prices has flooded provincial coffers with cash. Alberta’s real GDP growth is now forecast to reach 5.1 per cent in 2022, the highest since commodity markets collapsed in 2014. The provincial-deficit forecast, originally projected to hit $18.2 billion in 2021, has been whittled down to just $5.8 billion next year. 

But the windfall arrives as Alberta’s United Conservative government is trying to reduce decades of failed attempts to reduce the province’s dependence on fossil fuels. It has positioned itself as a dedicated supporter of cleantech and the digital economy. Now, some in the province’s tech industry worry Alberta could lose sight of those diversification efforts.

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