Peter MacKay, former minister of national defence, foreign affairs, justice and attorney general, will be the keynote speaker at this year's CanaData West conference in Vancouver.
The construction forecast event, which takes place Oct. 27 at the Terminal City Club, uses data and key thought leaders to provide a barometer of future economic activity within the construction sector.
According to Alex Carrick, chief economist, CanaData and ConstructConnect, some of the topics likely to come up this year are the U.S. presidential campaign, housing prices and the oil slump.
Carrick gave an overview of some of the subjects he believes will be front and centre after an eventful year in politics and construction.
"It seems right now that B.C. is doing the best among the provinces," he said, citing unemployment rates and job growth data. "And actually by a fairly large margin."
He explained that B.C.'s exports have held up better than some of the other provinces that depend on energy, like Alberta. B.C. has been making gains in the forestry sector, though Carrick said this is likely to be an issue as tensions over the expired softwood lumber agreement are brewing.
B.C. has also seen another year without any start on LNG projects which were touted as the future backbone of the province's economy. Carrick said LNG prices have come down and competitors have come into the market, but he still sees B.C. as having massive future potential in the sector as well as the tech sector.
"I don't think I've seen anything like this before," Carrick said, calling B.C. a "fulcrum" for many massive economic trends.
Alberta, while hit hard in the past year by declining oil prices, has actually held up well and oil prices have come up, he added.
"I think we are starting to see a recovery," he said, noting he doesn't believe prices will return to record lows of below USD$30 per barrel. He explained that Saudi Arabia and other Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have begun to see problems on their own balance sheets and could begin to curb production.
Outside of the oil spectrum is housing. Carrick noted that government has taken action to dampen rising home prices, including penalties for vacant homes and taxes on foreign homebuyers. He said the effectiveness of these actions remains to be seen and one of the major elements that might not be getting enough attention is increasing housing supply.
"You can't just put a hammer on demand, you have to provide supply," he said.
In addition to Carrick and MacKay, attendees will hear from economist Bryan Yu, vice-president of public affairs for Insights West Mario Canseco and managing principal of Urban Analytics Michael Ferreira.
Yu, who will give an overview of B.C.'s economy, is a senior economist for Central 1 Credit Union, the umbrella organization for the credit union system in British Columbia and Ontario. He provides economic analysis and forecast services to support the credit unions and frequently comments on provincial and national economies for major media outlets.
Canseco will give a talk entitled, The Barometer of Construction Confidence in British Columbia.
He is responsible for designing and managing research projects for clients in the public sector, non-profit organizations, associations and education. Canseco is also Insights West's spokesperson for political and sociological issues and surveys.
Before joining Insights West in 2013, Canseco co-ordinated research teams for a now-defunct public opinion firm that operated in Canada, the United States and Britain, worked as an editorial researcher for Peter C. Newman's books, The Secret Mulroney Tapes and Here Be Dragons; as a research and communications specialist for the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC; and in various journalistic roles in Canada, Mexico and Spain.
Ferreira will discuss the outlook for residential construction. He brings more than 20 years of experience in the new multi‐family home development industry — most of that time as the managing principal of Urban Analytics Inc. He has also worked in senior management roles with major development firms.
Carrick will begin and end the conference with remarks on the resource sector, housing-bubble speculation, the U.S. economic recovery and the value of the Canadian dollar.
MacKay will be addressing all things economic, political and social concerning Canada as a whole, but even more specifically for British Columbia. The oil and natural gas pipeline approvals process, native land claims issues and prospects for a new LNG industry will be featured in his remarks.
He'll also be commenting on how well the Liberals are governing in Ottawa and what the prospects are for U.S.-Canada relations depending on the outcome of the presidential election in early November.
For more information on the conference visit www.canadata.com.