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

  • Grandparents shocked by reports of 13 starved grandchildren

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - The grandparents of 13 starved and tortured children say their son's family looked happy and healthy when they last visited California six years ago. Betty and James Turpin of Princeton, West Virginia say they were in shock when they learned of the arrest of their son David Turpin and his wife, Louise Turpin this week. Source
  • Serbian police arrest three Australians over US$400M cocaine haul

    World News CTV News
    CANBERRA, Australia - Three Australians have been arrested in Serbia over the second-largest cocaine haul in Australian law enforcement history, police said on Thursday. Serbian police alleged the men arrested in a Belgrade hotel foyer on Wednesday "are linked to" the discovery of 1.28 metric tons (1.41 U.S. Source
  • Texas 'Tourniquet Killer' set to be first U.S. execution in 2018

    World News CTV News
    HUNTSVILLE, Texas - A man who became known as Houston's "Tourniquet Killer" because of his signature murder technique on four female victims is set to become the nation's first prisoner executed in 2018. Texas prison officials Thursday evening are scheduled to give 55-year-old Anthony Allen Shore lethal injection for the 1992 strangling of a 21-year-old woman whose body was dumped in the drive-thru of a Dairy Queen in Houston. Source
  • Exercise? I get more than people think, Trump says

    World News CBC News
    Do not expect U.S. President Donald Trump to hit the gym, despite his doctor's orders. He gets plenty of exercise on the golf course and at the White House complex, the president told Reuters on Wednesday. Source
  • Pope wraps up Chile stop with visit to migrants

    World News CTV News
    SANTIAGO, Chile - Pope Francis wraps up his Chile visit Thursday by meeting with members of the South American nation's booming immigrant community, who are flocking to the region's strongest and most stable economy but are increasingly the focus of political and social discontent. Source
  • Student dies at University of Ottawa residence, school president says

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - The president of the University of Ottawa says a student has died at a school residence. But in a statement posted on the university website, Jacques Fremont did not identify the student nor a cause of death. Source
  • Unifor splits with Canadian Labour Congress over workers' right to choose union

    Canada News CTV News
    The largest private sector union in Canada said Wednesday it is splitting with the Canadian Labour Congress over issues which include disagreements about the rights of workers to choose what union should represent them. In a notice posted on its website, Unifor national president Jerry Dias and Quebec director Renaud Gagne said the congress has also been less than supportive of their concern about American-based unions "trampling on the rights" of workers. Source
  • 'Fire and Fury' about Trump's White House sells big 2nd week

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" sold more than 190,000 hardcover copies last week, the book's first full week of publication, a company which tracks the retail market told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Source
  • No record that required inspections be conducted at California 'horror house' where 13 children were kept

    World News CBC News
    City officials couldn't find any records that the fire marshal conducted required annual inspections at a California home that doubled as a private school where authorities say 13 malnourished siblings were kept captive in filthy conditions by their parents. Source
  • LAPD: Serial rapist arrested after victim fell out of car

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A security guard who was arrested after a prostitute fell out of his car is suspected of raping more than a dozen women or girls as young as 15 at gunpoint in Los Angeles County, police said Wednesday. Source