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

  • Canadian class action proposed over alleged carcinogenic herbicide

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Lawyers for a group of Canadians who blame their own or their loved ones' cancer on exposure to a herbicide have filed a series of proposed class-action lawsuits against the product's manufacturer. The untested statements of claim filed in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia allege that Monsanto, and its new owner Bayer, acted with reckless disregard for the safety of Canadians by selling Roundup. Source
  • A brief history of Lowe's experience in Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    Lowe's announced the closure of 34 stores in Canada Wednesday. Here is a brief overview of the U.S. company's history in Canada. North Carolina-based Lowe's bought into a long retail tradition when it purchased Quebec-based Rona for $3.2 billion in 2016. Source
  • Canadian family describes their mother's 'terrifying' escape from Iran

    World News CBC News
    Ramin Seyed-Emami screamed for joy when his mother's plane took off from the airport in Tehran. He and his brother Mehran were in Vancouver, listening intently on the phone as their mother Maryam Mombein went through airport security, her cellphone tucked into her pocket. Source
  • Astronomers believe we could be in for a rare meteor storm

    Canada News CBC News
    There's a chance a rare meteor "storm" will occur Thursday night, and eastern Canada might be able to catch it. Meteor storms can be defined as a substantially higher-than-normal outbursts of meteors entering our atmosphere, and occur when Earth sweeps through a dense cloud of leftover cometary debris. Source
  • At least 8 dead as Bolivian security forces clear protesters' blockade at fuel plant

    World News CBC News
    The death toll from an operation by Bolivian security forces to clear the blockade of a fuel plant by anti-government protesters has risen to at least eight, officials said Wednesday. The public defender's office and the state Institute of Forensic Investigations announced the casualty figures, a day after the violence in the city of El Alto, near La Paz. Source
  • Canada-wide warrant issued for federal offender known to frequent parts of Ontario

    Canada News CBC News
    Police are asking for the public's help to locate a federal offender. Toronto police say the provincial parole-enforcement squad has issued a Canada-wide warrant for 34-year-old Chibuike Nwagwu. They say Nwagwu has allegedly breached his statutory release. Source
  • Uber to let users record audio of rides in Brazil, Mexico

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Uber will allow passengers and drivers in Brazil and Mexico to record audio of their rides as it attempts to improve its safety record and image. The ride-hailing company plans to pilot the feature in cities in both countries in December. Source
  • Missouri police: Mother took daughter from nursing home, killed her

    World News CTV News
    ST. LOUIS -- An elderly woman who feared she was developing dementia removed her mentally disabled adult daughter from a nursing home, then fatally stabbed her in a suburban St. Louis hotel before attempting to kill herself, police and relatives say. Source
  • Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley not ready to apologize for remarks that got her kicked out of legislature

    Canada News CBC News
    Opposition leader Rachel Notley is still refusing to apologize for remarks that got her kicked out of the Alberta legislature Tuesday. Speaking to reporters Wednesday after addressing a rally of nurses on the legislature's steps, Notley said she and her NDP colleagues are busy working on "other strategies" to stop the contentious Bill 22. Source
  • Death toll in violence at Bolivian fuel plant rises to 6

    World News CTV News
    LA PAZ, Bolivia -- The death toll from an operation by Bolivian security forces to clear the blockade of a fuel plant by anti-government protesters has risen to six, officials said Wednesday. The public defender's office announced the casualty figures, a day after the violence in the city of El Alto, near La Paz. Source