Canada must take action to bolster its competitiveness, according to the head of the country's largest bank.

"We're at a critical time in our country's history," warned Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Officer Dave McKay in a speech Thursday.

"Our competitiveness is challenged. Our capacity to grow and advance our economy is stalling ... we need a new approach," he added, noting he often hears concerns from investors about Canada’s position in the world when travelling overseas.

McKay joins a chorus of voices that have warned about Canada's economy losing its edge. Those warnings have been particularly vocal in Alberta, where the struggle to build new pipelines has battered the province.

Indeed, McKay joined that rallying cry on Thursday, while acknowledging "a growing crisis" in the country's resource sector.

"Investment in energy is critical to ensuring Canada remains prosperous for now, and generations to come," he said, according to remarks prepared for his address to RBC's annual general meeting in Halifax. "We must balance the need to reduce our carbon footprint, with the need to produce more energy to supply growing demand globally."

"Canada has lost $100 billion in energy projects in the last two years alone. We simply can’t afford to lose any more."

But McKay also made it clear his bank is eager to bolster clean energy growth, with RBC aiming for $100 billion in financing for sustainable, low-carbon sectors by 2025.

The need for additional energy infrastructure is one pillar in McKay's recipe for improving the country's competitiveness. He also called for a more ambitious approach to exporting made-in-Canada intellectual property, a national data policy, and ensuring young Canadians are equipped with the education necessary to thrive in the modern economy.

“If we don’t find a way to get going with an ambitious plan for Canadian competitiveness in the digital age, we will all pay a price,” McKay said.