From pipeline protests across the country to attempts at product boycotts in international markets to divestment campaigns on university campuses, it sometimes feels as though Canada’s oil and gas sector is the Rodney Dangerfield of Canada’s economy.
No matter what advances are made on abatement of greenhouse gases, pipeline safety, First Nations consultations and reconciliation or any other examples of progress on environmental, social or governance (ESG) criteria, media coverage seems to indicate the sector can’t get any respect.
But a new poll conducted by Research Co for my organization puts that old Dangerfield joke to rest in pretty convincing terms.
According to the July 2021 public opinion survey of respondents across the country, three in four Canadians polled agree Canada should be a preferred global supplier of energy, while almost seven in ten (69 percent) say they have personally benefited from the oil and gas sector.
It would be an understatement to say that’s a strong and welcome result. In fact, the results show most Canadians feel proud of the work their energy sector is doing to enhance its record on ESG criteria and that most Canadians are aware of the importance of the sector to the prosperity of families and communities right across the country.
Among other findings, 70 percent of respondents agree that resource development could help alleviate systemic poverty within Indigenous communities, almost three in four Canadians (73 percent) agree Canada’s prosperity is supported by the oil and gas sector, and two thirds of Canadians (66 percent) support Canada’s role as a global oil and gas supplier.
Further, almost three in four Canadians (73 percent) say global markets should prioritize jurisdictions like Canada that are leaders in climate and environmental protection, and that Canadian oil and gas products help fund important social programs like health and education for Canadians.
If you have a foot in the Canadian energy sector, and you pay attention to indicators like tax revenues and royalties, then the importance of the sector to Canadian family prosperity will come as no surprise. After all, estimates of revenue generated by oil and gas for Canadian governments since 2000 is more than $493 billion.
What’s especially encouraging, though, is that the latest poll shows Canadians appear to acknowledge the connection. Here’s why that’s so important:
Given the world requires $525 billion of new oil and gas investment per year just to meet current demand, I can’t help but think more of us ought to push for Canada to receive a sizeable share of this new investment. Moreover, analysts predict world oil demand will surpass the 100 million barrels per day mark in the second half of 2022, thanks to solid economic growth and expectations of continued success in containing the COVID pandemic.
At a time of continuing recovery, why would we walk away from such a critical economic opportunity, only to abandon the playing field to another global supplier with an inferior record on climate, environment, social and governance criteria?
It’s along the same lines that we’re pleased to be able to report that 73 percent of Canadians polled agreed it’s vital that First Nations be included in project development plans in order to establish long-term revenue sources for their communities. That’s a welcome finding; already, oil sands procurement alone from Indigenous suppliers stands at around $2.4 billion annually, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Taken as a whole, these polling results tell me it’s absolutely crucial to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across the country that we continue to develop our energy resources to the highest world standards.
Far from a sector that sometimes has received little respect, it appears Canada’s oil and gas industry is viewed with real pride by a majority of Canadians – and it’s set for a bright future.
Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder/spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca.
Results were based on an online study among 1,000 adults in Canada, conducted by Research Co from July 7 to 9, 2021 and weighted for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.