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24th CEO Survey—Alberta insights

Alberta CEOs are optimistic and ready to navigate increasing environmental, regulatory and tax obligations to position themselves for long-term success. Explore the Alberta-specific insights from our 24th CEO Survey.
 

At a glance

  • Alberta CEOs see over-regulation and government policy as their biggest threats to growth. But as businesses transform, it will be important not to lose sight of the cybersecurity strategies they’ll need to meet changing demands.
  • Alberta CEOs are taking the business impacts of environmental, social and governance (ESG) seriously, with 54% planning to increase investment in ESG initiatives. In fact, CEOs in the energy, utility and resource sectors are the biggest proponents of ESG investments.
  • When it comes to workforce strategy, more than half of Alberta CEOs said they plan to change their organizational culture and workplace behaviours—a jump compared to other Canadian CEOs.

From crisis to optimism around growth

Alberta CEOs are optimistic about the global economy in the coming year, with 72% anticipating growth. What’s more, 31% of Alberta CEOs are very confident their organization’s revenue will grow over the next 12 months (36% nationally). As Alberta CEOs shift from a crisis mentality to a growth mindset, they’re ready to navigate increasing environmental, regulatory and tax obligations to position themselves for long-term success.


Over-regulation and policy uncertainty surpass cybersecurity as threats to growth

Alberta CEOs have a different set of concerns than their national counterparts. Across Canada, CEOs are increasing digital investments, and as a result, cybersecurity has moved to the top of the list of extreme threats. But in Alberta, concerns about over-regulation and government policies outweigh cybersecurity and the pandemic as top threats to growth. One reason is that the province’s energy industry is more impacted by regulation and how it may affect its competitiveness with other global players.

With organizations now more reliant on technology (and the technology of suppliers) within their ecosystem, Alberta CEOs still need to prioritize the role they play in securing their business. As new business models interact with new digital tools, cybersecurity strategies will need to shift to meet changing demands.

Alberta CEOs are also more concerned than the Canadian average to see changes in tax policy as potentially affecting their organization. This aligns with recent federal carbon taxes, where the province pushed back. In March 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal carbon tax on the provinces is constitutional.

%

of Alberta CEOs consider over-regulation and policy uncertainty the most concerning threats.


Top 5 threats to growth—Alberta compared to Canadian average

all saying “extremely concerned”
Alberta
Canada
Over-regulation
%
%
Policy uncertainty
%
%
Increasing tax obligations
%
%
Uncertain economic growth
%
%
Pandemics / other health threats
%
%
Tax policy uncertainty
%
%

Reynold Tetzlaff,
Alberta Managing Partner,
PwC Canada

"We’ve started to see more optimism within the energy industry and in Alberta over the last few months. But we need to understand that when we see Alberta CEOs are more pessimistic compared to nationally, it’s because Alberta’s energy sector has been operating in a low-price environment for the past few years. It is encouraging to see many looking at growth opportunities in the coming year."

Striking an ESG balance in a volatile economy

The regional differences around environmental, social and governance (ESG) and sustainability are striking.

Alberta CEOs appear to be taking the threat of climate change more seriously than the average. They’re less optimistic about the government’s ability to balance short-term economic needs with long-term environmental goals in the recovery (31% versus 51% nationally). But while reliance on the government is low, they’re more apt to take it upon themselves to take action. They’re more likely to be planning to increase investment in ESG initiatives (54%), possibly as a way to demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship, including carbon reduction, social responsibility and strong governance, as well as to continue to have access to capital.

From an industry lens, Canadian CEOs in the energy, utility and resource sectors are the biggest proponents of spending on ESG initiatives. ESG is the most popular area of investment growth over the next three years, at 70%. They’re not waiting for the government. The industry needs capital, and so the capital markets are directing them on what’s needed.

%

of Alberta CEOs believe the government’s recovery plan will effectively balance short-term economic needs with long-term environmental goals (51% nationally). But 54% are planning to increase investment in ESG initiatives.

Reynold Tetzlaff,
Alberta Managing Partner,
PwC Canada

"Alberta CEOs can’t ignore ESG. They’re moving ahead. They’re not waiting for the government. It’s what’s expected from the capital markets, and our companies are responding."

Workforce and culture still a priority

In Alberta, 4 out of 10 CEOs say they reduced headcount in the past 12 months. Nationally, most Canadian CEOs expect headcount to increase this year. Looking ahead, Alberta CEOs are modest in their staffing forecasts for the coming year, with fewer than half expecting their organization’s headcount to increase (44% versus 61% nationally). But over the longer term, the province is more in line with the rest of Canada, with 8 out of 10 expecting to increase headcount within the next three years (79% versus 82% nationally).

CEOs are looking at whether they have the right capabilities to address strategic initiatives like energy transition, innovation and technology. When it comes to workforce strategy, slightly more than half of Alberta CEOs (51%) said they plan to change their workplace culture and behaviours—a significant jump compared to other Canadian CEOs (42%).

They also plan to focus on workforce engagement and communications (34%) and productivity through automation and technology (30%).

%

of Alberta CEOs say they plan to change their organization’s culture and workplace behaviours.


Questions to consider

 paybackperiod orange

How do you plan to change your long-term investments over the next three years as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?

 data analysis and investigation orange

Are ESG and regulatory impacts factored into your strategic risk management activities?

 people audience teamwork orange

How will you adapt your workforce strategy to create value amid the impacts of the pandemic?

Regional pages

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Reynold Tetzlaff

CA, Alberta Region and Calgary Office Managing Partner, Calgary, PwC Canada

+1 403 509 7520

Email

Steve Hollinger

CA Office Managing Partner, Edmonton, PwC Canada

+1 780 441 6872

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