Please join with our expert speakers, representing a spectrum of economic spheres and political perspectives, provide their insights, analysis and opinions.
Bob Ascah will moderate the session. A question and answer period with the panelists will take place at the conclusion of opening remarks of the five panelists.
Pedro Antunes is the Chief Economist, thought leader and spokesperson for the Conference Board’s suite of economic forecast products, as well as other reports and economic indicators that relate to Canada and its regions. Mr. Antunes has provided expert testimony before parliamentary committees. He makes numerous presentations on economic topics and dialogues with Canadian leaders, the public and media about issues important to Canada.
Mr. Antunes joined the Conference Board in 1991 after working with the Canadian Forecasting Group at the Bank of Canada. In addition to his contribution to regular forecast products, Mr. Antunes led research on the impact of demographic change on the financial sustainability of public health care, productivity and other issues affecting the long-term economic growth for Canada and its provinces. He also worked on several international projects, helping decision-makers in Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Ukraine develop appropriate forecasting and policy analysis tools.
Mr. Antunes holds an M.A. (Economics) from Queen’s University and a B.A. (Honours Economics) from Bishop’s University.
Trevor W. Harrison is a professor of sociology at the University of Lethbridge and director of Parkland Institute, an Alberta-wide research organization, of which he was a founding member and first research director. Dr. Harrison is best known for his studies in political sociology, political economy and public policy. He is the author, co-author or co-editor of nine books, numerous journal articles, chapters, and reports, and a frequent contributor to public media, including radio and television.
Ron Kneebone is Scientific Director of the Social Policy & Health research division in The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. His published research has dealt with issues of government financing, deficits, and debt reduction and more recently on issues of poverty reduction and the economics of homelessness. In 2017 he served on the Yukon Financial Advisory Panel tasked with advising the government on delivering on its priorities.
Ken Kobly has been the President and CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC) since February 2005. Over sixteen years of speaking for the chambers of commerce federation, which represents more than 25,000 businesses in Alberta, Ken has developed the ACC’s profile as a strong, consistent voice for Alberta business. Provincial, national and international media regularly turn to the ACC for comment on business-related issues.
Ken has a background in accounting, serving as a member of the provincial board of the Certified General Accountants Association of Alberta and as president in 1988-89. In recognition of his service, Ken was honoured as one of 100 CGAs who have made a difference. He is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Citizenship Medal, recognized as one of Alberta’s 50 most influential people in 2016 by Alberta Venture Magazine, and was recognized as Canadian Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year in 2018.
Ken spent two decades on the municipal council of the Town of Beaumont and was mayor of the town for 12 years. He continues to live in Beaumont with his wife, Peggy, and has four children and five grandchildren.
Sheila Pratt is a long time observe of Alberta politics, was a writer and editor at the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald. She continues her career as freelance television and radio commentator and is co-author of a book Running on Empty, Alberta After the Boom.
Heather Smith is President of the United Nurses of Alberta, which represents more than 30,000 Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses and allied workers. She is a prominent advocate for Canada’s universal public health care system and a national pharmacare program.
Elected as UNA president in 1988, she has served in that role ever since. She received the Spirit of Tommy Douglas Award in 2007 for her commitment to the dreams of the late Saskatchewan premier and creator of Canadian medicare.
Smith came to Alberta in 1976 after training in Ottawa. While working as an RN in Edmonton in 1980, Smith became active in the union. She was elected as a local president in 1983 and has served on every UNA negotiating committee since 1984. She has played an important role in the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions since UNA joined that organization in 1999.