May 11, 2020

Episode #13: Rebuilding Alberta’s economy wisely: A conversation with Dawn Farrell

Since the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19, nearly 3 million Canadians have lost their jobs, and if you consider those who were technically employed but worked no hours, the number of Canadians without income is considerably higher. In Alberta, the economic devastation is felt even more acutely as low oil prices and an oversupply of oil is projected to reduce GDP by 25-30% in the second quarter of 2020. When we look at what that means for our jobs, our models estimate that the true unemployment rate is just over 28%.

The fastest way to climb back out of that is to, of course, to get the economy started. You don’t need to think about recovery spending or recovery investment. You have to actually get people confident enough to start spending money again, to get the economy going. Our challenge is how to do that while keeping people safe.

Dawn Farrell, President & CEO, TransAlta

On April 30, Premier Kenney unveiled his three-phase plan to re-open Alberta’s economy, and one of the questions that has guided this and other province’s plans is how do we re-open the economy while protecting the health and safety of our communities?

Dawn Farrell, one of Alberta’s most highly respected business leaders is the President & CEO of TransAlta and a founding member and Vice Chair of the Business Council of Alberta. As one of the drivers and inspirers of the Business Council of Alberta’s 3-point plan to recovery, Dawn joins host Adam Legge to talk about why a phased plan to get the economy going is so important to restore confidence and balance economic recovery with the health and safety of Albertans.

Dawn also shares the strategy her team at TransAlta deployed to continue to operate the company as an essential service while keeping essential workers as safe as possible. Dawn also shares how she and her team have built and maintained employee confidence and trust.

As re-launch day approaches on May 14, Dawn also shares her thoughts on Alberta’s re-launch strategy broadly, how Albertans might respond and what might trigger a pull-back.

A cautious, phased approach, carefully seeing how if the protocols we are putting in place are working, could build a lot of confidence over time and we’ll get to the end state faster than if we tried to go too quickly.

We also look beyond the current crisis and re-launch towards what Alberta’s future looks like in the new normal, and how business can lead the way and collaborate with government to build a stronger Alberta on the other side of the pandemic.

I think Alberta can do it better than anyone else because Albertans are inherently optimistic and entrepreneurial and forward-thinking, and [there is] no time like the present to use those skills.

In This Episode:

  • Why a phased plan to get the economy going is so important to restore confidence and balance economic recovery with the health and safety of Albertans
  • How TransAlta has operated as an essential service, protected its essential power plant workers and built employee confidence and trust through transparency, information sharing and frequent communications
  • How we manage a successful re-launch, maintaining priority on heath and safety, building public confidence and avoiding a pull-back
  • What Alberta’s economy looks like beyond the current crisis and immediate recovery
  • Lessons we’ve learned from this crisis and how we use them to build a stronger workforce, a more connected community and a more resilient economy

Key Takeaways:

  • A phased re-opening is the fastest way to getting our economy back on its feet, but it must be done slowly and with care and caution to avoid a resurgence of cases and triggering a pull back.
  • Albertans are inherently resilient and adaptive, and even though the province has been acutely impacted by the pandemic, we have the resources, talent and capability to rebuild and emerge stronger than ever.

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