This week we hear from Ashley White as she discusses the economic impact of the Alberta Oil Sands - this is part of her outbound exchange selection process.
 
The Buzz – February 1, 2016   By Ray Hook
 
President Tony called the meeting to order at 11:45 a.m. at the Best Western Boardroom.
 
Guests included Hazel Cail (Camrose Tourism), John Stoddart (Daybreak), Tina Yarbrough (prospective member), Ryan Galenza (Charlie school), Ashley White (our Outbound Student), and  Gavin Galenza (Dawn’s son).
 
Health of the Club – no report.
 
Announcements
 
Tony reported that our Club academic scholarships had been awarded as follows: The CLBI scholarship to Craig MacLellan, The Augustana / U of A scholarship to Justin Renke, and the Dr Dunbar Memorial scholarship was not awarded due to insufficient interest earnings on the capital, and the decision by the Club Executive to not top up the award.
 
Tony mentioned that concern about the status of our many Club Banners (which used to be on display on big boards) has been expressed by some members, and that he thought it might be wise to strike a small committee to investigate a photographic history of all the banners. Something to think about. He will raise the issue again. Looking for volunteers…
 
Ray advised that this year’s Rotary Youth Leadership Canoe Trip is scheduled for May 19-25, and that a Rotarian mentor was needed to accompany the CPS and BRSD staff on the trip. See Ray for details.
 
Dawn reminded members of next week’s evening meeting (6:00 p.m. start), and that although there wasn’t a guest speaker planned this month, March and April were booked. There will be a traditional Chinese buffet to celebrate Chinese New Year. Members are encouraged to attend.
 
Next Rotary Celebration Gala set for noon on Tuesday, February 16 at noon at the Camrose Resort Casino.
 
 
  5.      Judges Dawn and Jerome called for Happy Bucks after Jerome fined all present….  Those who were happy are: Dawn ($20 for admittedly failing to ensure 50/50 tickets present at meeting), Jenn, David T, Sheila, Ray, Lou, Randy and Hazel Cail.
 
  6.  Guest Speaker – President Tony introduced a short video in the Oil Sands, and after that, he introduced Ashley to present on the economic impact of the Oil Sands. Ashley had presented this talk as part of her selection process for the Rotary Outbound student vacancy, for which she was successful.
 
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Her speech follows:
 
“Natural resources are arguably the driving factor behind a country’s economy. And in a time where our world is so connected, a nation is able to share its resources not only among its own people, but to the world. The global market like the one we have today means that in addition to resources as source of growth and wealth; it also means more people feel the impacts when the economy takes a downturn. And so today fellow Rotarians, I’d like to share with you one of clearest examples of effect natural resources have on a nation’s economy; I’d like today to take a look Canada’s economy.
 
Canada’s vast amount of natural resources is no secret. Industries like forestry, agriculture, and natural energy make up one fifth of Canada’s gross domestic product and half of its exports. These numbers make it clear that natural resources are integrated into the whole country’s economy. However, it is individual provinces that have the most influence Of course, all of the provinces have a share in Canada’s economy; but there is one province that sways the balance more than the others.
 
If you guessed this province was Alberta, you’d be correct. Why Alberta is such an influential economic player has to do with its most prized natural resource: crude oil. In fact, Alberta alone boasts the third largest crude oil deposit in the world.
 
The discovery of this oil isn’t anything new- in fact Alberta has had its economy closely tied around fossil fuel production since the 1940s. With presence of 166 billion barrels of at their disposal, oil has been a reality for generations of Albertans. And oil is, as we know, one of the most, if not the most in demand resources on a global market. There is a reason oil is so sought after too. Plastic products, automotive fuel, cosmetics- there are seemingly endless new innovations for oil. Thus, through this need to improve on existing technologies to extract, refine, and process Alberta’s oil sands jobs are created, household income increases, and the standard of living gets better.
 
And then, as if to go against the saying “you can never have enough of a good thing” Alberta’s economy down turn:  
 
Although there are many factors that attribute to the Alberta oil prices dropping, the easiest reason to explain has to do with a fundamental economic principle: supply and demand.
 
The economy of our world is so closely connected that that decisions made in Saudi Arabia- the world’s top oil producer- contributed to the falling of 2014 crude oil prices. Middle Eastern oil companies and governments were faced with the decision between letting prices continue to drop and giving up market share by cutting production. There was hope that if they gave up some of their market share, then oil prices would return to their previous numbers. Saudi Arabia chose the first option and continued production. Because Saudi Arabia produces so much oil so cheaply, it can withstand low oil prices for a long time without any threat to its economy. However, the impacts of this decision in other parts of the world, like Alberta, are devastating.
 
What happens to all those jobs, those household incomes, that standard of living for Albertans? In 2014, approximately 133,000 men and women were employed in Alberta’s energy sector- which included the oil sands. This helped keep Alberta at a 4.7% unemployment rate, better than most of its neighboring provinces. However, during the first eight months of the 2015 year, Statistics Canada reports that Alberta alone saw 63,000 jobs lost: mostly related to the oil sector. By the end of 2015 that number totaled around 100 000 jobs lost and in turn unemployment rates spiked to 7 percent. The crash in 2014 carried over into 2015 and will carry over to 2016. Albertans have realized cannot simply wait until the next oil boom.
 
In the meantime, while Albertans and the rest of Canada more figure out ways to diversify and strengthen the economy, Albertans do what they can to help each other. We all seem to know someone who was affected by the drop of oil. My best friend’s dad was one of thousands oil workers laid off, and she tells me what it’s like moving from her own home into her grandmother’s house.  It’s these stories that make us realize that while we do what we can to help; like donating food and clothes to local charities, 100 000 people and their families shouldn’t have to move back in with their parents. So, unless there another resource waiting to be discovered for which the world is willing to pay a premium, we’ve got work to do to keep the economy going.
 
We can only hope that we’re up for the challenge.”
 
A short Q & A session followed, then thanked by President Tony.


 
7.    Other Business – there being no other business (n o 509/50 draw this week), Tony adjourned the meeting.
 
8    Next week’s meeting will be the monthly evening meeting, starting at 6;00 p.m. Guests are welcome. Please advise Dawn ASAP if you plan to attend this special Chinese buffet in honour of the Chinese New Year.