Chinese delegation meets Alberta business leaders

More than 100 Alberta business and industry leaders are joining Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous and Canada’s Ambassador to China, John McCallum, to welcome a Chinese delegation from Shandong province.

Chinese delegation meets Alberta business leaders

Minister Deron Bilous and Ambassador John McCallum met with Mr. Zhang Guoliang from the Shandong Department of Commerce (centre) and Mr. Lin Qiang from the Siwin Foods (right).

The delegation is undertaking a three-day program to explore potential business opportunities in Alberta from May 8-11. The program includes stops in Edmonton and Calgary, where they will meet a variety of Alberta business and industry leaders.

Their visit is a result of Minister Bilous’s trade mission to China last November, when the minister attended the Alberta-Shandong trade and investment seminar in Yantai city. More than 150 Alberta participants accompanied him to that seminar, meeting with more than 300 potential Chinese business partners, investors and customers, as well as government officials.

“Whether we are bringing the world to Alberta, or bringing Alberta to the world – showcasing our businesses abroad means new opportunities at home. Trade missions are critical to continue building confidence and credibility in international markets, and we are proud of the attention our local businesses are attracting from Shandong and other Asian markets.”

Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade

Deputy director-general Zhang Xingcheng from the Shandong Department of Commerce is leading the delegation. Zhang attended the seminar in Yantai last fall and also discussed furthering collaboration between Alberta and Shandong with Premier Rachel Notley and Minister Bilous in Beijing two weeks ago.

The delegation also heard from Ambassador McCallum, who delivered the keynote address during a luncheon in Edmonton. The ambassador’s remarks highlighted the importance of further developing Canada-China relations across many key areas, including public health, gender equality and economic sectors.

“Canada has much to gain through building stronger ties with China, and now is the time to act. By leveraging opportunities in key sectors like renewable energy, forestry, agriculture and tourism, we can support jobs and prosperity for more Canadians. I am pleased to see Alberta’s leadership in forging these essential relationships, and confident Albertans will see real results.”

John McCallum, Canada’s Ambassador to China

Shandong is China’s second most populous province, home to nearly 100 million people, and is the second-largest consumer market in terms of retail sales among all mainland China provinces

Expanded access to Asia for Alberta industries

Alberta business, from a variety of sectors, have new opportunities to collaborate, attract investment and expand their access to international markets following Premier Notley’s 10-day mission to Asia.

Premier concludes successful first trip to Asia

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and JOGMEC president Keisuke Kuroki shake hands after signing a Memorandum of Understanding in Japan.

The Premier spent seven days in China and three in Japan, meeting with government and industry leaders in a range of sectors, including: energy, forestry, agriculture, clean technology, tourism, education, health innovation and advanced technologies.

“A stable and resilient economy needs a diversity of products and a diversity of markets. Asia is hungry for the world-class products and services Alberta businesses offer. When we showcase Alberta abroad we create new economic opportunities at home.”

Premier Rachel Notley

The Premier signed an agreement with the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) to work together on scientific research and technical components of oil and gas exploration, development and production.

As a Japanese crown corporation, JOGMEC invests in early-stage resource exploration projects around the world. JOGMEC has invested $1 billion in Canada and is heavily involved in Alberta’s energy sector. This includes JOGMEC’s work to commercialize Super Critical Water Cracking technology as a means to reduce emissions associated with oil sands upgrading in Alberta.

Premier Notley also announced renewed support for Alberta’s forestry industry, including $300,000 to the Canada Wood Group to help Alberta producers with access and regulatory issues in export markets and $300,000 to the Alberta Forest Products Association to increase its international promotion over the next three years.

That announcement followed a tour of the Mitsui Home Component Plant which uses an Alberta-sourced, premium-grade lumber specific to Japan called J-grade lumber, as well as other Alberta wood products used to manufacture oriented strand board.

“Canada Wood is delighted to receive this support from the Government of Alberta which will help accelerate market creation for Canadian wood products in key Asian segments."

Paul Newman, director, Canada Wood Group, Asia

“It is more important now than ever that Alberta’s forest sector diversify its markets. Support and expertise provided by Alberta’s foreign offices will help grow our markets overseas, helping to secure stable futures for the women and men who work in forestry and the communities that they live in.” 

Paul Whittaker, president and CEO, Alberta Forest Products Association

The Premier also participated in an energy and clean technology seminar that included more than 200 energy and clean technology executives and Japanese government representatives. Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous, AltaGas and the Alberta Industrial Heartland Association also presented at the roundtable.

Other activities included promoting Alberta to Japanese executives in the medical, nanotechnology and information and communication technology industries, and attending an event hosted by Canada’s Ambassador to Japan, Ian Burney. Over 90 stakeholders attended the event, and the Alberta delegation was welcomed by Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (JAPEX) CEO Osamu Watanabe. JAPEX’s subsidiary, Japan Canada Oil Sands, will begin production at its new Hangingstone SAGD operation this summer.

In addition to the Premier’s activities, Minister Bilous facilitated a roundtable discussion to showcase Alberta beef and pork product exports to Japan. As Alberta’s largest market for pork and third largest market for beef, Japan imported $1.2 billion of agriculture and food products from Alberta in 2016, one-third of Canada’s total. The minister also met with the president of Costco Japan and toured a Costco facility. The wholesale retailer has been a significant buyer and seller of Canadian and Alberta pork products.

On April 24, Premier Notley announced that Alberta and the Chinese province of Guangdong had become sister provinces, prior to travelling to Japan. Guangdong represents 25 per cent of China's total imports and exports and is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in China.

This was the Premier’s first trip to Asia and it built on previous trips by Minister Bilous, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier and Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd. In November 2016, Minister Bilous led one of the largest ever missions to Asia, where he was joined by more than 80 businesses and associations with ties to Alberta. Many of the relationships formed on that trip are showing real results for Albertans today.

China and Japan are Alberta’s second- and third-largest trading partners, respectively. The province’s trade with China has tripled since 2003, while Japan represented 15.7 per cent of non-U.S. exports last year. In 2016, Alberta’s two-way trade with China and Japan totaled more than $7.4 billion, with potential for growth. Alberta is well positioned to meet the high demand for energy resources, raw materials and quality commodities created by Asia’s rapidly emerging urban middle class and modernizing economy.

General public to join North America's top environmental officials this June to discuss Harnessing Local Innovation for a Healthy Future

On June 27 and 28, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) invites the general public to join the annual gathering of its governing body, the Council of the federal environment ministers of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. This year, Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna will host Mexico’s Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Rafael Pacchiano Alamán and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, the 2017 CEC Council Session will take place in the birthplace of Canadian Confederation: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. 
 
The public is encouraged to participate in the following events:
 

  • A live discussion on Harnessing North American Innovation for a #HealthyFuture on the afternoon of June 28, featuring a live audience and broadcast on the CEC website and Facebook Live, including presentations from the North American winners of the CEC Youth Innovation Challenge.
  • Connecting Communities for a #HealthyFuture: An Interactive Exhibit will give the public the opportunity to learn more about the Commission’s work to protect and enhance North America’s environment. The public can experience a blue carbon virtual reality tour, try out a citizen science application developed by North America’s largest tribal health organization and learn more about the continental flyway of the monarch butterfly and how to protect it.
  • A one-day public forum of the CEC Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) will be held prior to the Council Session, on June 27, in which North American coastal, shoreline, and riverbank communities share their innovative local solutions to the environmental challenges they face. North Americans can join this session via live broadcast and send in their questions and comments on social media.

Proposed legislation protects whistleblowers

Proposed legislation introduced today would better protect whistleblowers and help ensure wrongdoings in the public sector are reported and addressed.

If passed, the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Amendment Act would be among the most comprehensive legislation of its kind in Canada. The proposed amendments would encourage the reporting of wrongdoings within the public sector by better protecting whistleblowers from any form of punishment or retaliation from their employer.

For instance, the new act would entitle whistleblowers to remediation if they suffer a reprisal from their employer for reporting a wrongdoing. If there has been a reprisal, the Labour Relations Board would decide what form of restitution should be made to the whistleblower and enforce compliance.

“Albertans deserve a government that’s committed to the highest standards of responsibility, accountability, ethics and transparency. It’s important that public sector employees feel safe to report serious wrongdoings and are protected from reprisal. We hope this legislation will encourage more people to come forward when a matter needs to be investigated.”

Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal

If passed, the bill would also:

  • Ensure more detailed public reporting from the Public Interest Commissioner, including specific findings and results of investigations.
  • Allow the Public Interest Commissioner to investigate a wider variety of wrongdoings, including some forms of mismanagement, bullying or abuse of human resources.
  • Protect whistleblowers from reprisal from the moment they approach their supervisor about a wrongdoing.
  • Extend protections to more employees, including staff in the offices of the Premier and ministers.

The proposed legislation was drafted based on recommendations in the final report of the all-party Select Special Ethics and Accountability Committee released last fall.

If the bill is passed, stakeholders will be consulted on the development of regulations that could extend whistleblower protection even further. 

Bill to make Alberta workplaces healthier

The proposed Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act would help reduce workplace illnesses by giving Albertans unpaid, job-protected sick days.

If passed, the bill would allow Alberta workers up to five days of job protection a year for personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member. It would also allow for 16 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for long-term illness or injury.

“A guarantee of job-protected, unpaid sick days would give workers time to get healthy and it would keep employers from worrying about ill workers spreading infectious bugs to others because they are afraid to take a sick day off. These proposed changes would make life better for workers and employers.”

Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

“In my practice, I often hear that patients are concerned to take time off work for illness due to concern that they will lose their jobs.  This has been worse over the past year with the economic downturn here in Alberta. The proposed government policy to ensure job security for those employees who are sick or unwell is an important social support initiative.”

Dr. Doug Klein, Edmonton family physician

“For the most part, the patients I see have support from their employers when advised to take medical sick leave. However, there is a small minority of Albertans who fear taking sick leave will cost them their jobs. These proposed changes would improve the overall health of Albertans and protect our work force.” 

Dr. David Ryan, St. Albert family physician

“Over the course of my career, I’ve seen too many hard-working Albertans juggle work and family responsibilities while battling a chronic illness. This balancing act comes at the detriment of the patient. Long-term job-protected sick leave will help Albertans focus on recovery and battling illness.”

Dr. Raquel Feroe, medical specialist

Alberta has some of the oldest workplace legislation in Canada. Both the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code have not been significantly updated in nearly 30 years.

Quick facts

  • Most Canadians have job-protected sick leave except for residents in Alberta, British Columbia and Nunavut.
  • Ontario residents have 10 days for personal and family sickness
  • Saskatchewan and Yukon residents have 12 days.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador residents have seven days.
  • Northwest Territories residents have five days.

The proposed Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code changes are the result of previous government reviews, as well as broad consultation with Albertans, employers, business organizations, labour organizations, municipalities, academics and advocacy groups. More than 7,000 submissions were received.

Bioeconomy proponents welcome SuperCluster program details

- Proponents leading the development of a bioeconomy supercluster welcome the federal government's launch of the Innovation Superclusters Initiative.  Such superclusters will help specific high potential Canadian economic strengths to advance technical platforms to enhance their world leadership position. The Canadian bioeconomy covers a wide range of Canadian traditional and non-traditional bio-sourced industrial sectors that employ more than 2 million Canadians and generates sales of $300 billion for our country.

Derek Nighbor, CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada congratulates Minister Bains for his commitment to innovation. "We believe that innovation development and deployment (including de-risking processes, products and markets) are key to our respective sectors' competitiveness and diversification to ensure economic growth and job creation in rural and urban regions of Canada."

A.J. (Sandy) Marshall, Executive Director, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada says, "We believe the bioeconomy is the primary industry that will enable Canada to be a global leader in environmental leadership transitioning Canada to a low carbon economy."

Our organizations are well advanced in the development of a new non-linear approach to the bioeconomy through the establishment of a BioDesign Innovation Super Cluster. The proposed super cluster already has significant industry participation and will be industry led, feedstock agnostic (eg, wood fibre, agricultural residues, waste and other) and focus on achieving specific market outcomes aligned with enabling Canadian companies to be global leaders while creating jobs across Canada.  This is a whole of value chain, circular economy approach. It connects players along the value chain from biological feedstocks to specific bio-based applications, building on current investments and successes in creating world bio-based technologies, products and markets. 

Pierre Lapointe, President and CEO, FPInnovations, says, "Our proposed BioDesign Super Cluster will focus on transformative processes and products. It will also link Tier One players along value chains that will build a sustainable low carbon economy where Canadians live and travel with bio based products."

The BioDesign SuperCluster will focus on two specific areas to achieve environmental, economic and social results:

1.     Low carbon transportation with a focus on aviation fuels, bio-diesel and innovative lightweight components making Canadians travel more efficient through less fuel consumption.

2.     Sustainable low-carbon living environment with a focus on advanced and bio-sourced materials where Canadian companies are supplying domestic and global markets for a low carbon environment.

The BioDesign Super Cluster will be built on the most promising technical platforms and will involve key industrial players across sectors such as forestry, agriculture, aerospace, automotive, chemistry, and many more. The Super Cluster will also be a critical growth and scaling vehicle for Canadian biotechnology companies with linkages to academic R&D partners.

Marc Lepage, President and CEO, Genome Canada, says, "We truly believe that an investment in the Canadian bioeconomy will reach across Canada, creating jobs that will stay in Canada and will enable Canada to become a global leader in a low carbon economy."

A.J. (Sandy) Marshall, Executive Director, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada
Derek Nighbor, CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada
Pierre Lapointe, President and CEO, FPInnovations
Marc Lepage, President and CEO, Genome Canada 

​Expect lower Canadian rig count after spring breakup: Peyto CEO

Western Canada’s rig count may not rise as much as previously anticipated following the end of spring breakup, says the CEO of Peyto Exploration & Production.

Darren Gee says that the annual slowdown period this year will have provided industry players the opportunity to reassess their capital budgets and funding requirements, which may not be aligning with expectations.

“Unfortunately, commodity prices haven’t materialized the way most predicted last fall when these winter drilling programs were put into motion,” Gee wrote in his May monthly report, published on Peyto’s website.

“I suspect many will come to the conclusion they can’t fund as large a drilling program as they wanted. And whether they officially announce such revisions or use other excuses, I think the result will be a lower rig count after breakup.”

There were up to 350 rigs active in Western Canada heading into breakup in March 2017, according to Rig Locator. That’s up from a peak of about 250 rigs the previous winter.

Many companies bumped up drilling spending for 2017 as prices improved, but Gee says the market is not supporting large increases in activity.

“The reality is that to run 400-ish rigs in Western Canada we need more than $50 oil and sub-$3 gas. The service industry has been right-sizing itself for half that many rigs over the last couple of years. To expand will take increased day rates and more workers, which can only be justified by increased commodity prices (that we don’t have).”

On the gas side, such “financial pragmatism” should be welcome, Gee says.

“We don’t have the egress to accommodate any real growth from the basin anyway. As it is, the industry has more deliverability than can be transported out of the basin when you consider the required maintenance and downtime of the major arteries like the Nova, Alliance and Spectra systems.

“For Peyto, an activity level that drops back to around 200 rigs will be welcome relief from potential service cost pressures. We can then take advantage of our low cost position to continue investing counter cyclically to the rest of the industry, just like we have been for the last few years.”

Trans Mountain construction to proceed pending successful completion of IPO next week

Kinder Morgan has issued its final investment decision for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, and it’s a yes—contingent on successful completion of the closing of its Canadian subsidiary’s initial public offering, which is expected on May 31.

The company expects to raise C$1.75 billion in the IPO, which prices 102.9 million shares in Kinder Morgan Canada at a price to the public of C$17 per share. It is one of the largest offerings in Canadian history.

Kinder Morgan says that while the political climate is not ideal, the process proceeded at this time because the Trans Mountain Expansion Project financing contingency period, as specified in shipper agreements, concludes at the end of May.

The recent B.C. election leaves the Trans Mountain-supporting Liberal party with a minority government against the province’s NDP and Greens, which both campaigned against the project.

Nevertheless, the project has the federal green light to proceed, as well as approval from B.C.

“Our execution planning is complete, our approvals are in hand, and we are now ready to commence construction activities this fall generating thousands of direct jobs for Canadians, including significant benefits to Indigenous communities in Alberta and British Columbia,” said Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, in a statement on Thursday.

Kinder Morgan CEO Steve Kean added that, “Upon the completion of the IPO, we will have secured satisfactory financing for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. We are excited to be moving forward on this tremendous project which is expected to benefit KMI and KML as well as our Trans Mountain shippers and Canada.”

Construction of the C$7.4 billion project to transport an additional 590,000 bbls/d on the Trans Mountain system to tidewater markets is now expected to begin in September 2017 with completion expected in December 2019.

Oil Sands Business Training Session Presentations have been posted to Oil Sands Royalty Forum

Presentation materials from the Oil Sands Business Training sessions held on May 16-18, 2017 have now been posted in the Oil Sands Royalty Forum.  

Presentations are listed under Active Issues.   

New Forum users must apply for access at  http://www.energy.alberta.ca/OilSands/803.asp.  

Canada, Ontario and Rainy River First Nations announce new reserve creation

The settlement of land claims is key to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Canada and creates the foundation for social development and economic growth that can generate benefits for Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.

Today, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and Rainy River First Nations announced that approximately 6,000 hectares of reserve land have been created for the use and benefit of Rainy River First Nations.

Increasing the land base of Rainy River First Nations will meet the current and future needs of the community and create new opportunities for the 1,100 community members.


Quotes

“With this addition, Rainy River First Nations is better placed to achieve their vision of a stronger, more resilient, and prosperous community. Progress like this, provides hope for their youth and sets an example of our shared journey of reconciliation.”


The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

"I am happy to see the Rainy River First Nations settlement agreement being fulfilled to benefit community members. This additional land will lead to a brighter future and better opportunities for the community and surrounding region. I look forward to continuing to work with leadership, and community members as we continue to forge the path of reconciliation."

Don Rusnak, P.C., M.P.
Thunder Bay — Rainy River

“We are pleased that these lands are now reserve. Our membership will move forward with our vision to build a stronger economy and a more sustainable community.”

Chief James Leonard
Rainy River First Nations

“I am thrilled that the Rainy River First Nations settlement agreement is being fulfilled to benefit community members. This additional land will lead to a brighter future and better opportunities for the community, an important part of reconciliation."

The Honourable David Zimmer
Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Ontario

Quick Facts

  • In 2005, Rainy River First Nations, and the Governments of Canada and Ontario negotiated a settlement agreement, which identified lands for reserve creation.

  • In February 2017, federal Order in Councils set apart 5,986 hectares/14,792 acres of land as reserve for the use and benefit of Rainy River First Nations.

  • Today’s announcement recognizes several years of collaboration to increase the reserve land base for Rainy River First Nations.