November 15, 2016 / 3:48 PM / in a year

Wildfire rebuilding to boost Alberta growth, jobs in 2017: report

FILE PHOTO - A crew member cleans the inside of the Family Foods grocery store after clearing all the expired food off the shelves as thousands of evacuees who fled a massive wildfire begin to trickle back to their homes in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada on June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Topher Seguin/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Rebuilding following wildfires in northern Alberta earlier this year will add 0.4 percent to economic growth in the Canadian province in 2017, creating jobs in a region already hurt by the oil price slump, according to a report released on Tuesday.

A total of C$5.3 billion ($3.92 billion) will be put back into Alberta’s economy over the next three years for clean-up and rebuilding around the Fort McMurray area, the Conference Board said.

The insurance industry will be responsible for covering the brunt of that cost, the report said, with the industry estimating claims at C$3.6 billion. The Conference Board estimated that relief and rebuilding efforts will cost various levels of government about C$1.5 billion.

In contrast, the federal and provincial governments covered the majority of payments following flooding in Alberta in 2013 due to a lack of residential flood insurance in the province, the report noted.

More than 1,900 residences were damaged or destroyed by wildfires in May that disrupted oil production and contributed to a contraction in growth in Canada in the second quarter.

The impact of the wildfires likely took 0.1 percent off Alberta’s gross domestic product this year, the report said. But rebuilding efforts over the next three years should help boost construction and retail sales and create 8,968 jobs next year.

That could take close to 0.1 percentage point off Alberta’s unemployment rate in 2017, the report said.

($1 = 1.3526 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Leah Schnur; Editing by Dan Grebler

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