We envision a diverse and thriving economy where innovation and a strong talent base drive our growth. Calgary’s entrepreneurial spirit will continue to power our economy and thoughtful investments will bring stability, growth and opportunity to our city.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be uneven among industries, and many businesses still do not have the certainty and stability they need. In addition, issues that existed pre-pandemic have been exposed or exacerbated, highlighting the need to take a proactive approach with economic recovery and diversification:
Hard-hit business such as those in tourism, restaurant, retail, and hospitality are still grappling with revenue shortfalls and complications around border travel while many others continue to struggle with repaying debt and lost talent. As of November 2021, 70% of Alberta’s small businesses are still generating below normal revenues while 57% are below normal staffing levels.
Emerging evidence indicates the economic hardship during the pandemic is felt more acutely by certain segments of the population, particularly based on gender and visible minority status. Over this past year (March 2020 to February 2021) 53.7% of year over year employment losses were attributed to women demonstrating that women were typically more impacted by the pandemic than men.
Innovation remains critical to our economic growth, but access to capital continues to be a barrier to scaling and commercializing technology.
Supply chains are currently constraining our economic growth, as access to global markets and imported goods remains a challenge. In light of this, the cost of shipping has increased exponentially, and supply chain issues are a limiting factor for many businesses.
We are currently experiencing a labour shortage, which places a challenge on businesses that need to attract and retain talent to grow. From tech to hospitality, the labour shortage and resulting higher cost of labour puts a strain on businesses’ ability to grow and compete.
The issues of supply chain and market access costs, compounded by rising labour costs, is further exacerbated by high inflation rates. With inflation rates at record highs, the price of goods is rising and thereby increasing the cost burden placed on businesses.
Uncertainty about the future of the pandemic and the trajectory of economic growth is preventing capital from being deployed. For instance, energy companies continue to grapple with uncertainty of future oil prices, and similarly, hospitality businesses face uncertainty about future public health restrictions related to pandemic response. This introduces uncertainty and reluctance to make significant operational decisions like hiring and capital investments.
Our economic engine and government revenue are largely dependent on energy commodity prices. Diversification in areas such as technology, agriculture and health sciences are examples of green shoots, but 30% of our economic activity remains tied to oil and gas, leaving our economic recovery and growth dependent on energy sector price fluctuations.
Economic recovery, particularly coming out of this pandemic, will require an all-hands-on-deck approach. Governments at all levels, industry, small businesses, post-secondaries and non-profit organizations will need to come together to ensure we achieve our economic potential.
Through collaboration, coordination and creative thinking, we can support small businesses in recovering and thriving, and help many access new markets. We can build an economy full of opportunity – and ripe for attracting and retaining talent. We can ensure an inclusive economic recovery that doesn’t leave anyone on the sidelines. We can invest in a more diversified economy that enables us to be more resilient to commodity price volatility.
How we move forward
1. Continue to support businesses as they recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In doing so, provide appropriate support measures to business in hard-hit sectors. Focus on sectors that have been severely impacted and do not have high-risk tolerance or access to capital, including hospitality and tourism, retail and non-profit.
Streamline government support programs to enable businesses to more easily navigate and access available resources. Additionally, when businesses apply for government support, inform them of other resources available to them, including at the provincial level.
Invest in affordable and high-quality child care to increase labour force participation and provide a stronger start for our children, which yields considerable economic benefits and creates a larger tax base. We can achieve this result by increasing support for early childhood educators and training programs to increase the number of people in the profession, while at the same time creating grants catered to Indigenous and newcomer children and families to support early learning and child care centers.
Invest in technology at all stages of the value chain including through incubators, accelerators, grants and novel equity arrangements, including start-ups, commercial demonstration and commercialization to ensure projects with a strong business case can reach markets.
Commit to supporting basic and applied research at post-secondary institutions.
Economic recovery and growth
What we're saying
Let's apply Calgary's can-do attitude to resurrecting the new arena deal
Now is the time to find ways to get to an agreement on the new arena, which will serve as a signal to the talent we must attract and retain to support Calgary’s economic recovery, growth and diversification.
Open letter: Next steps to support business through COVID-19
Our economy and public health landscape are in a very different position today than in March 2020. With the means to protect the health of our community and economy, we call on government to take action.