At a campaign stop at a Grande Prairie lumber mill, Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Prentice called for Alberta to diversify its economy.
Prentice spoke Monday morning at the Weyerhaeuser plant, a Grande Prairie facility that also operates a cogeneration plant.
“Our province really is at a turning point. We need, in the face of a collapse of oil prices, we need to diversify our economic base and we also need to diversify the revenue base of our government.” Prentice said.
Prentice highlighted the province’s forest industry, which he said employs 13,000 people, including 620 people at the Weyerhaeuser facilities. Alberta has seven major pulp mills, 25 saw mills and five oriented strand board plants, Prentice said.
“In this province, this is an industry that is not always well appreciated for the strength that we have,” he said.
He admired the Weyerhauser plant for operating in both the pulp and electricity businesses.
“It’s a very significant cogeneration industry that really puts Alberta at the forefront of innovation in this sector,” he said.
Prentice also spoke of the need to continue to build public infrastructure, even during tough times, such as the construction of the new Grande Prairie regional hospital.
“Grande Prairie, probably more than any place else in Alberta, is evidence of the pressure that we face in terms of population growth, educating our children, getting caught up on public infrastructure,” Prentice said.