Like many Alberta communities, Camrose is feeling the pinch of low oil and gas prices. But today the economy of this small city is getting a boost from Canada’s other oil industry.
As the site of Canada’s newest canola processing plant, Camrose is now extracting more employment and opportunity from the canola fields surrounding it. The Cargill facility has created 70 full-time jobs and work for 30 local contractors since opening in 2015, and spin-off opportunities are expected to grow as more people come to Camrose to transport canola, refuel and do business with the plant. The plant is one of 14 canola processing facilities across Canada, operated by Bunge, ADM, Cargill, Richardson, Viterra and Louis Dreyfus.
“When a large, established business like this comes to a city of 18,000, it’s a very good thing,” says Camrose City Councillor Kevin Hycha. “The plant has brought good jobs to our community – everything from blue collar to upper management. It attracts new people and strengthens our tax base. And we know it’s a good, clean industry that’s going to be around forever.”
Camrose is one of the real-life success stories behind the latest report on the economic impact of the Canadian canola industry. The study by LMC International found that $26.7 billion in economic activity now ripples through the economy as canola is grown, developed, processed, marketed to export customers and consumed by consumers and livestock herds here
This is LMC’s third economic analysis for the Canola Council of Canada, and the latest results confirm that canola’s importance is burgeoning. The agri-business research firm found that the industry’s impact has tripled in the last decade, and now accounts for a total of 250,000 Canadian jobs and $11.2 billion in wages.
“A study like this illustrates just how far that value extends, and why canola is important to all Canadians, not just those who work in the industry,” says Canola Council President Jim Everson.
“People may not always realize it, but our industry’s success is helping to support everything from new business start-ups to education and social services. We’re creating jobs in communities all across Canada, including
jobs for people who live far away from where canola is grown and who may not ever visit a farm.”
Everson notes that canola’s influence on jobs and wages was much steadier over the three years covered by the latest study, reflecting the industry’s evolution into a reliable mainstay of the Canadian economy.
The report also shows that wages for jobs linked to canola are higher than average. In the last three-year period studied, the average annual salary for jobs generated by canola was $62,000, compared to the average Canadian salary of $50,000.
LMC found that processing and refining are the fastest-growing generators of economic benefits related to canola, with the total impact of these enterprises now four times higher than a decade ago. In total, about 80,000 Canadian jobs are stimulated by canola processing and refining, and more growth is expected as the canola industry works toward its Keep it Coming 2025 goals.
In Camrose, the new processing facility was generating jobs even before it opened. It took a million hours of employment to build the plant and the new road leading into it. One local company expecting to see long-term benefits is Glover International Trucks, where Hycha is the Camrose general manager. The company sells and services the same sort of trucks and trailers that are used to transport canola to and from the processing plant.
“If the plant expands in the future, it will definitely have an impact on everyone in Camrose,” Hycha says.
Victor Goodman, director of community development for the City of Camrose, predicts the plant could also provide the region with a base for further diversification into new types of food processing businesses.
“Having a canola plant here positions us worldwide as a location for a whole new layer of food processing, including operations focused on ingredient manufacturing, which aren’t located here now,” Goodman says. “It’s a tremendously important pillar for the growth of Western Canada in the foreseeable future.”