Benefits there, message sketchy

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When it comes to this country’s natural resource wealth, it looks like a whole lot of people would benefit from some info.

A couple of surveys, with results released this week, show that many Canadians aren’t convinced of the benefits of the country’s energy industry. Many realize that large companies profit, but apparently don’t understand what it offers for the well-being of the population in general – that was one point gleaned from a report from Environics.

Harris-Decima reported that comments from those polled suggest that messaging clarifying how the resource sector benefits all Canadians would be of interest.

Natural Resources Canada commissioned the two studies.

These attitudes are of special interest in the context of some of the push-and-pull involving energy development across the country. Such projects typically involve a degree of opposition, and no doubt that fuels some of the public skepticism.

But Canada, it should be well known, has long benefited from a wide bounty of natural resources. It should be plain that the wealth of provinces in the west – including royalties and tax base – is a reflection of those industries.

So, maybe governments and industry need to do a better job getting that message across. But also, they need to do a better job of ensuring environmental protection, establishing practices and firm regulations to that end, and seeing that those safeguards also pass the public litmus test.

Canadians might also ask whether any streamlining of regulatory hurdles for development actually means slacking off.

In addition to ensuring environmental protection, a growing concern is that native populations in some areas haven’t been included when it comes to resource development – regarding consequences and benefits.

Yet another factor that will cloud the view of some is the destination of these products. A bigger push to refine products on home turf would result in development and jobs – benefits that would be hard to miss.

Organizations: Natural Resources Canada

Geographic location: Canada

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