In 2009, an independent study on the economic effects of building the Mackenzie Valley Highway identified four overall economic effects from the proposed project.
- Economic activity arising from the building and maintaining of the highway;
- Reduction in the cost of living for communities that would be given all-weather access to southern markets and distribution;
- An increase in tourism activities; and
- Beneficial impacts on economic activity arising from the Mackenzie Gas Pipeline (MGP) project, including natural-gas field exploration and development in the Mackenzie Valley region.
The economic activity arising from the new highway is significant - 7,785 one-time jobs in the NWT and 6,297 one-time jobs in the rest of Canada during the period of construction. 128 permanent jobs would be created in the NWT for maintenance of the highway once construction was completed.
In addition, the Government of Northwest Territories would save $1.3 million annually from the elimination of the need for winter road and ice crossing construction, money which could be invested elsewhere.
By reducing transport costs in the Sahtu, Gwich'in, and Beaufort-Delta regions, the cost of living for residents in those areas will decline, improving economic well-being overall. Residents will save $15.7 million annually, with positive benefits for the NWT economy.
Tourism is an important part of the NWT economy. The construction of the new highway is expected to increase the number of tourists visiting the NWT significantly. The economic benefits arising from this increase in tourism activity could translate into more than one half million dollars in increased economic activity, and 10 new permanent jobs annually.
The energy sector provides both jobs and economic activity important to the NWT. If the Mackenzie Gas Project pipeline is built, and the new highway is built in the same area, energy firms would save an estimated $1.215 billion (2009 dollars) over the 45 year operating period of the pipeline due to reduced exploration and well-development costs. Corporate after-tax returns would increase by almost $2 billion, increasing the economic viability of many exploration projects.
In sum, the building of the Mackenzie Valley All-Weather Road from Wrigley to Tuktoyaktuk will benefit residents of the NWT and all Canadians by spurring economic activity, reducing the cost of living for area residents, and by improving and extending Canada's national highway system.