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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oil Sands Survey to be Released Friday.

We are in the final stages of analysis on our discrete choice modelling survey of 1303 random Albertans on what values are most important for the future of oil sands development. We will be releasing the results on Friday where they will be posted on Policy Channel (www.policychannel.com)

Alberta has the most dynamic and fastest growing economy in the country. We have the largest per capita disposable income and the lowest unemployment rate and lowest overall taxes in the country. There are projects in progress and planned that total over $140B of investment – and this is just counting individual projects over $100M.

One of the most interesting findings in our survey turned on Albertans expectations on their quality of life. We have all kinds of serious and costly public infrastructure demands, population growth pressures, skills and staff shortages, rapidly increased housing costs and inflation once again creeping into our lives.

The social costs on families because of too few people doing too may jobs, and the pressure on community and social cohesion is starting to take its toll. Volunteerism is a hall mark of being an Albertan but people simply don’t have discretionary time any more to participate in community life like they used to.

In spite of all the economic activity, investment and wealth creation going on in Alberta, the pressures on people is taking a toll. Albertans are getting tired of trying to keep up the pace of work that is dominating their lives. Dealing with the implications of too much concentrated growth with insufficient social capital and human capital resources is showing up in Albertans feelings about their future quality of life.

When Albertans were asked about how they saw their quality of life changing in the next two years, our poll shows that only 4% believe their quality of life will improve dramatically. There were 24% who anticipated slight improvements. A third saw no change from the hectic pace and pressures they are dealing with. Interestingly 32% feel their lives will be slightly worse and 8% anticipated a dramatic worsening of their quality of life.

The Alberta Advantage is now a cliché in this province. While the advantage still exists, it has not trickled down enough to the ordinary citizen so they can see the upside working for them. The expectations of 40% of Albertans seeing their lives being worse off in 2 years and 33% seeing a current difficult situation persisting, clearly if this is a continuing reality it is unsustainable for many Albertans.