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The Western Canada Economy

abraham-lakeWestern Canada is composed of four provinces, westernmost of the country. Combined, these provinces make up nearly 29 percent of the Canadian territory. These provinces constitute an area of 2.9 million square kilometers. This geographical entity is considered the seventh largest landmass on the planet. There is an estimated 11.2 million people living in these provinces.

Western Canada is an important part of the overall Canadian economy in terms of industry as well as exported goods. In 2014, the gross domestic product (GDP) was calculated as consisting of 38 percent of Canadian industry. The exported goods sector consisted of 42 percent.
The Provinces and Major Cities
The four provinces that make up Western Canada are British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. British Columbia is home to over 4.5 million citizens. Its capital is the city of Victoria, although Vancouver houses the majority of the population with almost 2.5 million residents. Manitoba has over 1.2 million people, with Winnipeg as its major city. Alberta has a population of over 4.1 million people. Edmonton is its capital, although Calgary is a similarly important location, and home to a larger population. Saskatchewan has a little over 1.1 million residents and calls the city of Regina its capital.

These provinces and their cities fall under the jurisdiction of the Western Economic Diversification Canada agency. It is more simply referred to as WD. The organization deals with the economic development of the western portion of the country by investing in a variety of fiscal ventures.
Natural Resources and Major Industries
The two main type of natural resources among the Western Canadian provinces are energy and agriculture. British Columbia is best known for its coniferous forests as well as its natural gas and coal sources. The region also has isolated base metal deposits. The British Columbian rivers, in particular the Peace and Columbia, have been utilized for hydroelectricity. Viable agricultural land is restricted to the southwest portion and the valley areas of the interior. British Columbia does have a thriving fish industry due to the fish populations found in major rivers such as Fraser and Skeena.

Alberta is known for its fossil fuels and agricultural prospects. The province has been abundantly useful in producing coal, oil, and gas. Alberta is most known for its low-viscosity oil, which is readily available. The substantial use of this type of oil has led to reduced production. This has caused the industry to turn its attention towards the production of heavy oil. The extraction of this natural oil and bitumen, however, is not as easy as its counterpart and also requires considerable technology and funding. The workable land is present in the south of the province.

Saskatchewan is known as the largest agricultural prospect in Canada. It is currently the primary wheat source in the country and is also a considerable contributor for other crops and grains. In addition, the province produces a large quantity of potash, petroleum, and coal. It is also the second major resource for Uranium in Canada.

Manitoba has a variety of resources at its disposal. These include mineral production, hydroelectric power, and agriculture. Nickel is the most widely sourced mineral with copper, precious metals, lead, and zinc also heavily mined. The Nelson River is the major source of hydroelectric power in the province, with other rivers such as the Churchill also holding much promise. It also has a considerable fish population as well as forest resources.
Mining Companies
Mining is one of the largest sectors in Western Canada. An abundance of natural resources supporting the industry means that some of the largest mining companies in the country are immersed in these four provinces. The top mining organization Agrium Inc., sources potash from Saskatchewan. PotashCorp, Inc., the six highest performing company in Canada, also mines potash from the province.

Suncor Energy, the third highest grosser, mines bitumen from Alberta. The company is the largest producer of the natural resource. Walter Energy is invested in coal mining in British Columbia. Vancouver is also home to Goldcorp Inc., and First Quantum Minerals, Ltd. These companies are both invested in mining minerals. Hudbay Minerals Inc., has been involved in mineral mining from Manitoba for over eighty years.

The economy of Western Canada has certainly impacted the rest of the country. Nonetheless, the markets of these four provinces can still be quite unstable. This is largely due to the reliance on  natural resources. The total fiscal wellbeing of Western Canada is dependent on the performance of the natural resources industry.

Alberta in Crisis

alberta-prairiesAlberta has been seen as an economic powerhouse for the last 20 years. However, that’s about to change as a huge oil slump is headed towards Alberta and they’re already starting to feel the effects immediately. The last time there was a slump, it was in the 1980s but in the next two years, oil prices will continue to drop and Alberta’s Finance Minister has warned that this is going to be this generation’s challenge to fix. The deficit created by this slump could easily end up at over $10 billion in the next year alone.

The banks in Alberta are also reporting that because of bad credit loans and losses, they’re going to be feeling the economic slump as well. With so many loans going unpaid, the Government in return is going into more debt and the deficit is growing rapidly. This has resulted in the loss of jobs, the loss of funds available to Alberta and has unfortunately amounted to a near economic disaster.

Job Cuts

Encana Corporation issued a statement stating that the situation was dire and that the CEO within 30 years of working at Encana Corp. has never seen trying economic times this tough. As a result of this, the Canadian power house is going to rapidly bleed jobs and in the next year, their work force will be just half of what it was in 2013. This means less money will be spent in the economy and less people will be earning a regular paycheck, which in turn results in them applying for assistance benefits.

Are there any signs of hope that this situation could turn around quickly? It doesn’t appear so, as the Saudi Arabia Petroleum Minister has made it very clear they have no intention of doing production cuts. With lines of credit not being left available, jobs being cut and the Canadian economy going into shambles, what can people do?

Debt Consolidation

A lot of Alberta consumers feel hopeless right now as to how to proceed forward. Some of them might even be considering bankruptcy. No matter how much credit card debt and bad loans you’ve taken out, bankruptcy doesn’t have to be the answer and you should always consult with a trustee or financial advisor before making the decision to file for a bankruptcy.

Payday Loans

For people who just need to get by and borrow some money, there’s the idea of payday loans as well. While lower prices could be coming soon, should Saudi Arabia change their minds, a payday loan might be what you need to get you back on your feet if you’re feeling the effect of a job loss. Regardless of your bad credit history, you might still be eligible to get some borrowed money for a short amount of time.

The Options

What options do people have if they’re terrified of the times to come because of the loss of jobs and the banks losing money on bad credit loans?

Debt Consolidation – Always consolidate what debts you have and try to get those amounts lowered for a fixed monthly price if possible. Most companies will work with you rather than trying to collect it all.
Payday Loan – Getting a payday loan is the most common answer for getting out of a tough financial jam. This is simply a loan you can get and have an agreement to pay back on the lender’s terms.

If you have a line of credit, you could also consider applying for a new line of credit or adding onto your existing credit. There are options out there, so don’t give up hope yet.