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

  • Fraud case charges stayed because of judge shortage in Ontario Superior Court

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Five men accused in an alleged multimillion-dollar fraud scheme have had all charges against them stayed because of a shortage of judges in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice. Earlier this year, a judge attempting to set a trial date for the five accused said they could not come before the courts until at least January 2019. Source
  • Newly released video from Brazil shows man believed to be last of tribe

    World News CTV News
    SAO PAULO -- No one knows his name. No one knows the name of the people he came from. And he appears to have lived alone in Brazil's Amazon for 22 years. Video released for this first time this week by Brazil's Indian Foundation shows rare images of a so-called uncontacted indigenous man who is believed to be the last surviving member of his tribe. Source
  • Man charged with attempted murder of 5-year-old makes court appearance

    Canada News CTV News
    The 28-year-old man charged with the attempted murder of a 5-year-old Brampton, Ont. boy appeared in court on Friday. Dyon Smart has been remanded in custody and will make his next court appearance on July 25. Source
  • 'The Jay Z of St.-T': Rapper runs for mayor in St. Thomas, Ont.

    Canada News CTV News
    Three years ago, rap artist Malichi Male was driving to a gig in London, Ont. when he got lost. Male took a wrong turn and ended up in St. Thomas, a quiet community about 27 kilometres south of his destination. Source
  • MGM turns to never-tested law to sue Vegas shooting victims

    World News CTV News
    LAS VEGAS -- The unprecedented move from MGM Resorts International to sue hundreds of victims of last year's mass shooting in Las Vegas using an obscure U.S. law never tested in court has been framed by the casino-operator as an effort to avoid years of costly litigation -- but the legal manoeuvr may not play out that way. Source
  • 4-year-old boy shoots, kills 2-year-old cousin in California: police

    World News CTV News
    SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old cousin at a home in Southern California. San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman says the shooting occurred Friday morning in the Muscoy area, east of Los Angeles. Source
  • Technical and stage workers locked out at Toronto's Exhibition Place

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Workers who provide technical and staging expertise for events in major venues at Toronto's Exhibition Place have been locked out. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 58 says the lockout comes after months of negotiations for a new collective agreement. Source
  • Woman 'livid' after Air Canada allegedly failed to put mother’s remains on connecting flight

    Canada News CTV News
    A Brampton, Ont. woman says her mother’s remains spent days in an unrefrigerated Miami warehouse after Air Canada allegedly failed to transfer them to a connecting flight on time. “I’m livid,” Dion De Freitas told CTV Toronto. Source
  • U.S. making 'great progress' reuniting migrant families: judge

    World News CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- A federal judge says the Trump administration is making "great progress" toward meeting a Thursday deadline to reunite more than 2,500 children with their families after they were separated at the border. Source
  • Quebec pilot project to introduce sexual education to daycare-aged kids

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Some 1,200 Quebec daycare and kindergarten students will begin receiving age-appropriate sexual education this fall as part of a pilot project. The project will be run by the Marie-Vincent Foundation, which fights sexual abuse of children and teenagers. Source