AB saw smallest growth in capital investment

in January 2022, Alberta saw the smallest increase in capital investments, relative to how much they received the previous year, of all the Canadian provinces.

As I was browsing through data on the Statistics Canada website, I encountered information about capital investments in the various provinces in Canada.

So, I thought I’d look through the data to see what I could find.

The data was published in February. It’s annual data, effective as of the January of the year it was published, so the 2022 data is as of January 2022.

First. Here’s where each province sat as of January 2022. It shows the amount spend on construction, machinery, and equipment connected to non-residential properties.


Numbers are in the millions. So, for example, Alberta saw $56.7 billion in capital investments as of January, the second highest of all the provinces.

And that sounds good, right?

Well, let’s compare these numbers with what each province looked like the year before.

Jan 2021Jan 2022Change% change

While it’s true that Alberta saw the second highest value of capital investments in January, the increase from the previous January was less impressive.

As far as absolute dollar amounts, Alberta saw an increase of roughly $2.6 billion in capital investments between January 2021 and January 2022. That dropped Alberta down to fourth place.

And when we look at the increase relative to the amount invested in January 2021, Alberta had the smallest increase of all the provinces that saw increases: 4.77%. The next smallest increase was PEI, at 5.51%. Saskatchewan saw the largest increase: 18.5%.

Now, to be fair, Alberta wasn’t technically last. Newfoundland and Labrador did worse, but they were the only province to see a loss in capital investments. Alberta was last for the provinces that saw a gain.

But, you may ask, “What about the pandemic? Of course things will be lower if all the businesses are closed.”

True, but these are the numbers for January 2022, not January 2021. We were nearly two years into the pandemic by that point, and most of the public health protections were gone.

Besides, Alberta wasn’t the only province hit by the pandemic-fuelled recession. If it was the pandemic, then shouldn’t all the provinces see similar percentages in growth?

But, okay. Let’s take a look at data before the pandemic. Heck, why not start at January 2019, just before the UCP were elected?

Jan 2019Jan 2022Change% change

Now, Alberta is even worse off. We actually had less money come in for capital investment as the UCP head into their final year in office than we had as the NDP were winding down their administration.

In fact, Alberta saw the largest decrease in capital funding—$2.8 billion—of all the provinces over the last 3 years. Newfoundland and Labrador was a close second, at $2.2 billion.

Alberta was one of only three provinces that saw less capital investment in January 2022 than they did in January 2019.

On a relative basis, Alberta’s loss of 5.47% was the second largest loss, after Newfoundland and Labrador’s massive drop of 30.59%.

While I was at it, I figured I’d take a look at the numbers for the last 10 years for the provinces.

Jan 2012Jan 2022Change% change

Yikes! That’s even worse.

Not only did Alberta fare the worst in terms of absolute dollars—losing nearly $22 billion—but it was the worst in terms of relative change, too, dropping by almost 28%.

Newfoundland and Labrador was in second place at a 24.4% loss, and losing just $1.6 billion.

Here’s what Alberta looked like over the last 10 years, in graph form:

What this shows is a jump of about $20 billion in the first 2 years, than a drop of about $40 billion between 2014 and 2016. It sort of plateaued for the next 2 years, before dropping slightly in 2019 and bottoming out in 2020. It’s been slowly climbing the last couple of years, but as I pointed out, we’re still below 2019 levels.

Now, let’s look at what those capital expenditures look like for the separate industries.

Mining, quarrying, & oil & gas extraction$22,101.10
Transportation & warehousing$7,918.30
Public administration$4,432.90
Real estate & rental & leasing$1,937.00
Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting$1,659.80
Information & cultural industries$1,630.10
Health care & social assistance$1,509.40
Retail trade$1,202.30
Educational services$1,193.20
Wholesale trade$1,041.70
Accommodation & food services$691.70
Arts, entertainment & recreation$547.30
Administrative & support, waste management & remediation services$426.80
Professional, scientific & technical services$360.10
Finance & insurance$219.30
Other services (except public administration)$217.40
Management of companies & enterprises$81.20

Again, these figures are in millions of dollars, so the highest sector, which includes oil and gad, saw capital expenditures of $22.1 billion.

That sector accounted for roughly 39% of all capital expenditures in the province during January 2022, which is up from the 33.28% seen last year. However, it’s down from the 42.15% seen in January 2019.

In fact, let’s compare capital expenditures for 2022 and 2021.

Jan 2021Jan 2022Change% change
Arts, entertainment & recreation$386.90$547.30$160.4041.46%
Retail trade$871.80$1,202.30$330.5037.91%
Mining, quarrying, & oil & gas extraction$18,004.80$22,101.10$4,096.3022.75%
Accommodation & food services$582.60$691.70$109.1018.73%
Wholesale trade$937.80$1,041.70$103.9011.08%
Professional, scientific & technical services$326.00$360.10$34.1010.46%
Real estate & rental & leasing$1,821.00$1,937.00$116.006.37%
Finance & insurance$208.90$219.30$10.404.98%
All Industries$54,094.60$56,677.10$2,582.504.77%
Administrative & support, waste management & remediation services$408.40$426.80$18.404.51%
Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting$1,655.90$1,659.80$3.900.24%
Public administration$4,427.30$4,432.90$5.600.13%
Information & cultural industries$1,636.00$1,630.10-$5.90-0.36%
Health care & social assistance$1,531.20$1,509.40-$21.80-1.42%
Other services (except public administration)$224.80$217.40-$7.40-3.29%
Transportation & warehousing$8,869.60$7,918.30-$951.30-10.73%
Management of companies & enterprises$99.60$81.20-$18.40-18.47%
Educational services$1,596.30$1,193.20-$403.10-25.25%

The oil and gas sector drops down to third place, with a 22.75% increase; although, their increase of $4.1 billion was the largest of all sectors.

The arts, entertainment & recreation sector saw the largest relative increase, at 41.5%, but it was only $160 million in absolute dollars. Rounding out the rest of the top 5 were retail, hospitality, and wholesale trade.

Jan 2019Jan 2022Change% change
Health care & social assistance$1,217.80$1,509.40$291.6023.94%
Arts, entertainment & recreation$443.00$547.30$104.3023.54%
Information & cultural industries$1,333.20$1,630.10$296.9022.27%
Public administration$3,643.70$4,432.90$789.2021.66%
Wholesale trade$915.70$1,041.70$126.0013.76%
Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting$1,542.50$1,659.80$117.307.60%
Retail trade$1,162.60$1,202.30$39.703.41%
Accommodation & food services$707.50$691.70-$15.80-2.23%
Administrative & support, waste management & remediation services$447.40$426.80-$20.60-4.60%
All Industries$59,440.50$56,677.10-$2,763.40-4.65%
Transportation & warehousing$8,905.80$7,918.30-$987.50-11.09%
Mining, quarrying, & oil & gas extraction$25,055.20$22,101.10-$2,954.10-11.79%
Real estate & rental & leasing$2,315.00$1,937.00-$378.00-16.33%
Finance & insurance$276.90$219.30-$57.60-20.80%
Professional, scientific & technical services$462.00$360.10-$101.90-22.06%
Educational services$1,699.50$1,193.20-$506.30-29.79%
Other services (except public administration)$325.60$217.40-$108.20-33.23%
Management of companies & enterprises$159.90$81.20-$78.70-49.22%

Since 2019, Alberta’s oil and gas sector actually saw a decrease in capital expenditures, dropping 11.79%, from $25 billion to $22.1 billion. This bumped the sector down to 14th place.

Not only that, but their loss of roughly $3 billion in capital spending was the largest loss seen in any single sector. The sector with the largest percentage-based decrease was 49.22% in the management of companies & enterprises sector.

The utilities sector saw the largest increase over the last 3 years, rising by $2.1 billion, which was a jump of about 57%.

Rounding out the rest of the top 5 industries since 2019 were health care & social assistance; arts, entertainment & recreation; information & cultural industries; and public administration.

And finally, how each sector fared over the last decade.

Jan 2012Jan 2022Change% change
Arts, entertainment & recreation$287.20$547.30$260.1090.56%
Management of companies & enterprises$48.20$81.20$33.0068.46%
Transportation & warehousing$5,186.30$7,918.30$2,732.0052.68%
Administrative & support, waste management & remediation services$301.80$426.80$125.0041.42%
Health care & social assistance$1,070.40$1,509.40$439.0041.01%
Accommodation & food services$549.80$691.70$141.9025.81%
Retail trade$957.10$1,202.30$245.2025.62%
Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting$1,335.30$1,659.80$324.5024.30%
Information & cultural industries$1,327.30$1,630.10$302.8022.81%
Wholesale trade$851.60$1,041.70$190.1022.32%
Real estate & rental & leasing$1,611.20$1,937.00$325.8020.22%
Public administration$4,191.30$4,432.90$241.605.76%
Professional, scientific & technical services$427.30$360.10-$67.20-15.73%
Educational services$1,622.00$1,193.20-$428.80-26.44%
All Industries$78,605.80$56,677.10-$21,928.70-27.90%
Other services (except public administration)$432.50$217.40-$215.10-49.73%
Mining, quarrying, & oil & gas extraction$49,598.60$22,101.10-$27,497.50-55.44%
Finance & insurance$1,182.80$219.30-$963.50-81.46%

Here we see that oil and gas has dropped to second-to-last place, losing nearly $28 billion in capital funding in 2022, compared to what was spent in 2012. That was a drop of 55.4%.

Last place was finance & insurance, which lost 81.46% of its funding, but that amounted to less than a billion dollars.

Topping the list over the last decade was arts, entertainment & recreation, nearly doubling its capital funding, from $287.2 million in 2012 to $547.3 million in 2022.

The four remaining industries that joined arts, entertainment & recreation in the top 5 for increases in capital expenditures over the last decade were management of companies & enterprises; manufacturing; transportation & warehousing; administrative & support; and waste management & remediation services.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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