The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

November 28, 2013 06:15 ET

Fraser Institute: News Release; Energy Development Projects Present Potential for First Nations Prosperity

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 28, 2013) - Oil and gas development can help lower the unemployment rate among First Nations, bring prosperity to remote communities, and benefit all Canadians, says a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Opportunities for First Nation prosperity through oil and gas development, notes that over the next decade, an estimated 600 major resource projects worth approximately $650 billion are planned for Canada. And every proposed oil and gas project affects at least one First Nations community.

"These communities are often in remote, resource-rich areas so they have a unique opportunity to benefit from these developments," said Ravina Bains, study author and associate director of aboriginal policy studies at the Fraser Institute.

In British Columbia, for example, thanks mainly to geography, 28 per cent of B.C.'s First Nations communities stand to benefit from the seven major oil and gas projects currently under proposal. Similar situations exist in Alberta (five projects, 44 per cent of First Nations) and Saskatchewan (two projects, 23 per cent).

In some places, First Nations communities already work alongside industry. In 2010, more than 1,700 aboriginal people were directly employed in oilsands operations. Over the past 12 years aboriginal-owned companies have secured more than $5 billion worth of contracts from oilsands developers in the region.

And the jobs are sorely needed. While First Nations represent one of the youngest demographics in the country, with a median age of 26 compared to 41 for non-aboriginal Canadians, the on-reserve unemployment rate (23 per cent) dwarfs the national average (7.1 per cent).

"Energy companies have invested in training and education in First Nations communities. While some obstacles remain, it's a largely untapped labour force with boundless potential," said Kenneth P. Green, the Fraser Institute's senior director of natural resource studies.

Follow the Fraser Institute on Twitter and Facebook

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 86 think-tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research.

Contact Information