Natural resources drive 20% of Canada’s economy, Ottawa says – by Heather Scoffield (Canadian Press/National Post – September 4, 2012)

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The department’s most recent calculations project $650 billion in investment
in about 600 major resource projects over the next 10 years. That’s up from
previous estimates of $500 billion. “That $650-billion figure represents hundreds
of thousands of high-quality, well-paying jobs for Canadian middle-class families
in every sector of our economy, in every region of the country,” Oliver said.
(National Post – September 4, 2012)

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives have re-calculated the national economic impact of energy and mining to help bolster their strong support of the natural-resource sector against environmentalists and others. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says his officials have figured out how much income the sector brings to the economy — instead of just counting barrels of oil and tonnes of metal.
In 2011, the figures show, energy, forestry, metals and minerals directly accounted for 15% of the country’s income. When indirect effects are taken into account, Oliver said, natural resources drive 20% of the economy — and about 10% of all the jobs in Canada.
“It’s not all oilsands and it’s not all Alberta,” Oliver said in the text of a speech Tuesday to the business community in Toronto. “It is forestry in British Columbia, potash and uranium in Saskatchewan, mining in Ontario’s Sudbury basin, hydro power in Quebec and all the related supply chains.” 
But critics say that while no one doubts the economic dominance of energy and mining, the Conservative math only shows a slice of the story.
It’s not all oil sands and it’s not all Alberta

NDP natural resource critic Peter Julian said the figures don’t show how many jobs have been lost in softwood lumber and elsewhere because of the Ottawa focus on exporting raw materials instead of value-added products.
“We don’t argue that natural resources are an important part of the Canadian economy,” Julian said. “The issue is how the government is managing the resource economy.”
Plus, the new calculations are blind to the environmental cost of different types of energy production, added Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada.
Production and investment in wind, solar and other renewables are far less costly for the environment than oil and gas, he said.
“Not all resources are created equally.”
Normally, anyone interested in the heft of the natural-resource sector has had to rely on less-than-optimal data.

The real gross domestic product figures that come out every three months don’t capture the huge impact of global prices on the economy. And nominal GDP figures by industry, which include the price effect, have only been available for up to 2008 — ancient history when it comes to calculating the impact of a major, evolving part of the economy.
Now, government officials have developed a way to update the nominal GDP numbers for the natural-resource sector so that they can see how much money is flowing into the economy from energy and mining on a more timely basis.
Oliver said the exercise shows that in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, energy and resources directly account for one third of nominal GDP. In Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s 40%.
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