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Alberta still struggling with pipeline capacity, low growth: ATB Alberta Economic Outlook

By ATB Financial 12 December 2019 2 min read

Calgary—ATB Financial’s newest Alberta Economic Outlook shows our province’s real GDP is forecast to grow slightly higher—0.9 per cent—in 2020. 

Our economy should get some help from increased oil production, pipeline construction, an uptick in natural gas prices, a strong tourism sector and ongoing population growth. However, this growth depends on progress being made in expanding oil pipeline capacity and toward resolving international trade disputes.

“With construction of the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline finally underway and the Enbridge Line 3 project moving forward, things are looking up at least a little for Alberta's beleaguered oil patch,” said Todd Hirsch, vice-president and chief economist at ATB Financial. “Despite this, Alberta continues to swim upstream against a current of external economic challenges such as the Chinese ban on Canadian canola, the trade war between the U.S. and China and ongoing opposition to new pipelines.” 

ATB’s Economic Outlook, released today, analyzes how our economy is performing and provides insight into where it is heading. Its key findings include:

  • The price of Alberta’s natural gas will go up over the next few months but won’t do much to reverse the sector’s low growth
  • Retail sales are down and unlikely to recover by the end of the year due to the sluggish economy and high consumer debt
  • Both residential and non-residential construction spending remains low despite a pick-up in activity in the third quarter
  • Alberta’s unemployment rate is well above the national average and is forecast to remain high
  • Despite the Chinese government lifting its ban on Canadian meat, Alberta farmers continue to be challenged by the country’s canola ban, a difficult harvest and soft prices

“If global trade relations improve, we should see some growth in our manufacturing sector,” said Hirsch. “Other bright spots include tourism and the tech sector but 2020 will still be a slow year for the Alberta economy as oil and gas investment remains constrained by limited transportation capacity."

Read the complete ATB Financial Economic Outlook here.

For further information and interviews with ATB’s Chief Economist Todd Hirsch, please contact: 

ATB Financial,
Media Relations 

About ATB Financial

With $53.9 billion in assets, ATB Financial is an Alberta-built financial institution. But don't let that fool youwe're so much more than a bank. We got started in 1938 to help Albertans through tough economic times, and today we have 173 branches, 142 agencies, a Client Care Centre, four entrepreneur centres, and mobile and online banking. And did you know we're fast becoming the digital bank and the bank for entrepreneurs? We're already the place to work for our more than 5,000 team members who love to serve our 775,000-plus customers in 247 Alberta communities. To find out more, visit us at

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