Poll shows broad national support for energy sector during COVID recovery

A new national poll commissioned by the Business Council of Alberta shows encouraging cross-Canada support for the province’s energy sector, the organization said Friday.

The non-profit Business Council commissioned the Ipsos poll, which surveyed 1,003 Canadians from across the country, to gain understanding of Canadians’ priorities as the country begins the challenging work of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the results, 71 per cent of respondents agreed that Canada’s natural resource industry should be part of the country’s economic recovery strategy while 75 per cent of respondents said it is possible to support the natural resource industry during recovery while at the same time protecting the environment.

A majority of Canadians (52 per cent) said that recovery from COVID-19 means we should prioritize the economy and the environment equally, while 28 per cent said that recovery from COVID-19 means we should prioritize the economy over the environment, and eight per cent said we should prioritize the environment over the economy. Twelve per cent did not know enough to say.

Economic concerns such as the economy, deficit/debt, unemployment and taxes were cited by more than six in 10 respondents (61 per cent) as the No. 1 issue facing the country now. Forty-six per cent of respondents said the most important issue facing Canada is the COVID-19 response, such as preventing a second wave or finding a vaccine. Environmental issues and climate change were ranked the top issue by only eight per cent of respondents and dropped out of the top five list of Canadian priorities altogether, compared to Ipsos polling during the federal election in 2019.

“I think COVID has definitely changed Canadians’ views of where the economy fits, and the level of priority it deserves,” Adam Legge, president of the Business Council of Alberta, said in an interview. “People are feeling the need to get our economy going — get livelihoods back, get income earning, get jobs back on stream.”

Legge said the urgent need for economic recovery appears to have increased public perceptions of the country’s natural resource sector. He said Albertans should be very encouraged to see that such a substantial portion of Canadians feel the natural resource sector is vital to the future of the country as a whole.

“It speaks favourably, I hope, for a strong oil and gas sector, agriculture sector, and forestry sector going into the future for Alberta,” he said.

Legge added while the Business Council of Alberta favours a balanced approach to economic recovery, he is skeptical of any plan that prioritizes other policy concerns over getting the economy back on its feet as quickly as possible. While

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland

has said that “the restart of our economy needs to be green,” Legge said the results of the Ipsos poll show the natural resource sector must be part of any recovery plan.

“The key message we’d love to leave with Canadians and, in particular, the federal government is that how we deliver a green recovery is just as important as the green recovery itself,” Legge said.

“We’d like to ask them that they make any green recovery, or the COVID recovery, inclusive of the natural resource sector … there needs to be enabling policy to support the sector so that it can be competitive, create jobs and continue to hire and also make the investments to reduce their emissions.”


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