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News and Opinion Highlights - December

  • Cavendish Farms to build new Lethbridge potato processing facility – Cavendish Farms has announced that it will invest $350 million towards the construction of a new frozen-potato processing facility at the Sherring Industrial Park in Lethbridge, Alberta. The City of Lethbridge voted to sell over 116 hectares of land to the company and will provide $41.5 million towards infrastructure and irrigation in the industrial park. Approximately $15 million of this total will be borrowed from the Government of Alberta. Mayor of Lethbridge Chris Spearman has stated that this will be the largest investment in the city’s history. Construction of the facility is expected to begin in the spring of 2017 and be completed by summer 2019; the project will double Cavendish Farms’ annual production capacity.
  • Conference Board of Canada ranks Saskatoon as Canada’s healthiest city – A new study by the Conference Board of Canada City Health Monitor ranked Saskatoon as the healthiest of 10 major Canadian cities. The study compared 24 indicators, including population health, life satisfaction, and access to health care. Saskatoon, Calgary, and Winnipeg each earned an "A" grade, with Saskatoon garnering the top overall spot due to its ranking on life satisfaction.
  • New aircraft could create 100 new maintenance jobs – A workforce of up to 100 people may be required for the heavy maintenance of the 16 new Airbus C-295 search and rescue aircrafts announced by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. Airbus Defence and Space and its Canadian partner, PAL Aerospace, are contracted to complete the maintenance on the aircraft for the first five years with an option for an additional 15 years. PAL is headquartered in Newfoundland but intends to have the heavy maintenance work done in Winnipeg. PAL has also indicated it will construct a training centre and simulator in Comox, BC that is expected to employ about 30 people.
  • Husky Energy to invest $1 billion in Saskatchewan – Husky Energy, one of the largest energy companies in Canada, says it plans to spend more than $1 billion on three new steam-assisted heavy oil extraction plants in West Central Saskatchewan as part of its ongoing transition to “low sustaining capital” operations. Construction of a fourth plant is also underway with production slated to begin in 2019. The investment is positive news for communities that were affected by job loss due to falling oil prices. The investment in new plants is forecasted to create almost 100 new full-time jobs.
  • Construction of new medical cannabis facility begins in Leduc – Aurora Cannabis Enterprises, a licensed producer of medical cannabis, has begun construction of a new 74,000 square-metre production facility in Leduc, Alberta. The facility, known as “Aurora Sky,” is expected to be the largest and most advanced cannabis production facility in the world, producing in excess of 100,000 kilograms of cannabis per year. The company currently operates a 5,100 square-metre facility in Mountain View County, Alberta.
  • Labour demand in oil sands expected to increase modestly by 2020 – The latest labour demand outlook for oil sands construction, maintenance, and operations from PetroLMI, a division of Calgary-based Enform, projects a modest recovery of 1,605 net jobs over the next three years. This represents a three per cent growth in employment, from 48,145 jobs in 2016 to 49,750 jobs in 2020. Both operations and maintenance jobs are expected to increase, by 3,615 jobs and 6,345 jobs, respectively. However, an acceleration in the completion of construction projects due to lower construction costs will lead to a reduction in the oil sands construction workforce from 7,700 workers in 2016 to 2,165 in 2020. Total job estimates for both 2016 and 2020 have been revised downward since the previous outlook in February 2016.
  • Boston Scientific acquires Neovasc’s tissue processing technology –Global medical technology company Boston Scientific has acquired Richmond-based Neovasc’s tissue processing technology and facility for approximately $90 million. In addition, Boston Scientific will invest an additional $9.5 million in Neovasc for a 15 per cent equity interest in the company. The investment will allow Neovasc to further develop its lead products. The transaction is expected to have closed by the end of 2016.
  • Chinese company buys BC retirement home provider – Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group is buying a majority stake in Vancouver’s Retirement Concepts, one of the largest providers of assisted living and long-term care in BC. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the province paid Retirement Concepts $85.6 million, more than any other similar providers. The deal is believed to be worth $1 billion, exceeding the foreign investment threshold and triggering a review by the federal government’s Investment Review Division. This review will look at whether the foreign investment provides a net benefit to Canada and the impact it will have on Canadian participation in the business.