By May Domingo, November 17 2020—
Amidst the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the decreasing economic worth of the oil and gas industry, the Alberta government has recently been looking into diversifying the economy. The University of Calgary has stepped up to lead research and pave the province’s path towards becoming a “national and international hub for quantum technology,” according to Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation.
This year, U of C will be receiving $11.8 million for quantum technologies research from the province. This research is focused on ensuring accurate sensor technology for oil and gas construction, secure communications and optimize computer and machine learning. This funding is said to also go towards fostering new technology-based jobs in Alberta.
The Major Innovation Fund is also providing $3.9 million for antimicrobial resistance research. This research will be beneficial for infection prevention, all the while placing Alberta towards global leadership in addressing viruses like the COVID-19.
The Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) One Health Consortium is an all-Albertan collaborative platform consisting of Albertan universities and colleges, the Alberta Health Services, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and ProvLab Alberta. The project is aimed towards “treatment optimization, AMR surveillance and infection prevention and control” research that can be shared nationally.
Just under $5 million is supplied by the Research Capacity Program to contribute to the university’s SMILE-UVI project and other projects involving the environment and energy sectors.
The SMILE-UVI, Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer —Ultraviolet Imaging, satellite project was approved by the Canadian Space Agency this summer. Along with the European Space Agency and the Chinese Academy of Science, this project allows the SMILE-UVI team to collect data from the Aurora Borealis. They hope to expand and discover new knowledge about aurora and space weather.
“Establishing Alberta as a leader in quantum technologies will give a competitive boost to our economy and create new jobs today and for the future,” said Schweitzer in a Government of Alberta news release.
U of C president Ed McCauley shared similar sentiments, noting that these groundbreaking research projects “will be significant for new job creation and commercialization activities in key sector.”
As of September 2020 alone, Statistics Canada revealed that 1,832,600 Canadians are unemployed. This is a 3.5 per cent increase since the beginning of the year. Alberta experienced an 11.27 per cent increase in unemployment rate in comparison to September 2019. Needless to say, the province has taken a great toll in the pandemic’s repercussions, considering it happened after the province laid off hundreds and thousands of oil and gas workers as the oil price decreased. In a report published by Petroleum Labour Market Information, 25,600 jobs were lost between May 2019 to May 2020.
According to the provincial government, their recovery plan is a long-term and ambitious strategy that “will give a competitive boost to our economy” and greater emphasizing its potential to create jobs “today and for the future.”