Desperation in energy heartland: What will stop the pain from low oil prices?

With one of Canada's big banks cutting its economic forecast for the country for a second time in a matter of weeks, the focus is now on the federal government and what it can do to help stop the ongoing pain from low oil prices.

See Full Article

The drop in commodity prices is hurting all of Canada’s economy, but it’s hitting Alberta the hardest. Earlier this week, Statistics Canada revealed that Alberta lost more jobs last year than in any year since 1982.

Its revised figures showed that the province had a net loss of 19,600 jobs in 2015 -- up from the 14,600 job losses it estimated in early January.

The province’s unemployment rate also rose to 7.0 per cent from 4.8 per cent a year earlier. And some are predicting it will get worse yet. In a research note Tuesday, TD Bank said it expects unemployment in Alberta to rise to 7.5 per cent by mid-year.

“It's a very pointed story about the resource sector, still in tough times in 2016, and needing a lift from not only low interest rates that we already, but some more government spending than we thought we were going to do this year,” Shenfeld told CTV News.

For some, like laid-off oil patch worker Mitchell Yagey, that’s meant desperate times. Yagey was recently forced to sell his girlfriend’s jewelry to earn enough money to pay the bills.

“I'm out of a job right now so I need some cash to make things happen here,” he said.

On Thursday, CIBC World Markets suggested the oil crash is taking investor confidence with it. The bank cut Canada’s growth forecast by almost a half a percent, saying the country still hasn’t felt the full effects of the resources price crash and the lower loonie.

Across the country, an estimated 100,000 jobs were lost in the battered energy sector last year alone, according to the Association of Petroleum Producers.

And many severance payments or employment insurance benefits are about to expire. That’s got many, including federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, calling for changes to EI to offer help to laid-off Alberta workers for longer.

“There's an urgent need to change the rules for EI to go back to a system that's more open, more generous, and more rapid. Many families are suffering right now,” Mulcair told reporters on Parliament Hill Thursday.

But it’s an idea that Employment and Labour Minister Maryann Mihychuk won’t yet commit to.

“Everything is being evaluated. And we will announce it as soon as decisions are being made,” she said.

Mihychuk instead focused on repealing two controversial bills brought in by the previous Conservative government that would have required unions to disclose details of their spending.

The legislation had angered Canadian unions, the Canadian Bar Association and the federal privacy commissioner, who worried the legislation would cost millions to enforce.

Conservative MP John Barlow criticized Mihychuk Thursday for focusing on such a small issue in the face of major job losses in the oil patch.

“With everything that's going on in the oil and gas sector, that this is their top priority is very frustrating,” he told reporters.

The prime minister will be in Calgary next week to meet with Alberta's premier, but the province may have to wait to learn how Ottawa will help until after the federal budget is unveiled two months from now.

With a report from CTV’s Richard Madan



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Protesters ejected from Turkish president's New York speech

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A demonstrator who got up and shouted "Terrorist!" at Turkey's president during a speech at a hotel on Thursday was grabbed by bodyguards and rushed out of the hall as others in the emotional crowd pushed, shoved and shouted. Source
  • Mexico shocked by news: Girl trapped in rubble didn't exist

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Hour after excruciating hour, Mexicans were transfixed by dramatic efforts to reach a young girl thought buried in the rubble of a school destroyed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. She reportedly wiggled her fingers, told rescuers her name and said there were others trapped near her. Source
  • Use of force 'appears to be justified' in video of police shooting, former SIU director says

    Canada News CBC News
    A shooting by a Toronto police officer to stop a brutal and prolonged stabbing attack last week appears to be justified, says a former director of Ontario's police watchdog, based on his viewing of video of the incident that is making the rounds on social media. Source
  • Former Australian PM says he was head-butted after anti-gay marriage event

    World News CTV News
    CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia's prime minister on Friday urged restraint in the nation's same-sex marriage debate after a former prime minister who gave the people a direct say in the divisive issue said he was head-butted by a gay rights advocate while walking in a city street. Source
  • Canada sending bomb disposal experts to Iraq to train security forces

    Canada News CBC News
    A handful of Canadian army combat engineers will soon be in Iraq to train local security forces in the finer points of detecting and defusing roadside bombs, the Liberal government announced Thursday. An advance team has already been sent to observe the kind of instruction being given under a NATO program that was announced at the Warsaw Summit in the summer of 2016, but only established in earlier this year. Source
  • Quebec suspect charged with murder in Amber Alert case out of coma: lawyer

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - A man who fled authorities last week with his six-year-old boy and who was later charged in the slaying of the child's mother is close to being released from hospital, his lawyer said Thursday. Source
  • Trump's Strange test: Alabama Senate runoff puts president in tricky spot

    World News CTV News
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- It's Trump versus Trumpland. U.S. President Donald Trump's political muscles are getting a workout in a Republican runoff election in Alabama that has an awkward dynamic: He's campaigning for the establishment-backed incumbent over an upstart beloved by many of his own most ardent supporters, including his former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Source
  • May to urge new partnership, transition period for Brexit

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Prime Minister Theresa May will try to kick-start faltering Brexit negotiations on Friday by proposing a new economic and security partnership between Britain and the European Union, plus a transition period after the U.K. Source
  • Quebec Crown says evidence insufficient for charges in 1991 death of Val-d'Or Cree woman

    Canada News CBC News
    Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) says it does not have enough evidence to pursue criminal charges in the 1991 death of a 24-year-old Cree woman in Val-d'Or, Quebec. The decision follows new inquiries conducted by Sûreté du Québec investigators earlier this year in and around the city situated 600 kilometres northwest of Montreal. Source
  • Tamara Lovett says she has abandoned the 'natural' remedy belief system that killed her son

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Tamara Lovett said Thursday she no longer adheres to the belief system which led her to treat her dying son with oil of oregano and dandelion tea. A teary Lovett told her Court of Queen's Bench sentencing hearing she now knows what she was doing in treating her son, Ryan, was wrong. Source