Companies in ailing oilpatch look to avoid layoffs

CALGARY - Companies in the ailing oilpatch are looking at ways to avoid layoffs - or at the very least to forestall or minimize them.

See Full Article

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) has not had to trim its workforce of more than 7,600 as a result of the crude price collapse.

"In lieu of layoffs, we went to our staff and said 'we will do wage reductions.' And every employee who made more than $50,000 had a wage reduction," chairman Murray Edwards said to applause at a recent business forum in Lake Louise, Alta.

"The majority of employees said they would rather ... keep the team together than to have people laid off."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has estimated at least 40,000 jobs have been shed in Canada's oil and gas industry this year, with the bulk in Alberta.

With oil prices hovering below US$50 a barrel for much of this year - and dropping below US$40 in recent days - it's been tough for oil producers to justify investing in new projects.

About 1,500 job losses have been announced at oilsands giant Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) this year. But in addition to that, the company has taken a hard look at benefits and discretionary spending, said CEO Brian Ferguson.

"We did put in a salary freeze in 2015 as did, I think, most of industry. We have reassessed all of our time off practices."

Debby Carreau, CEO of human resources consulting firm Inspired HR, encourages employers to look at all their options before they resort to letting staff go.

That could include reducing or delaying contributions to Registered Retirement Savings Plans, suspending health spending accounts, freezing salaries or slashing bonuses.

Some companies that have cut salaries are rewarding employees with stock. Others have instituted shortened work weeks or given employees "unpaid sabatticals" until things look up.

And some have encouraged employees to go back to school or brush up on their training, with a promise that they'll have a job to return to.

Instead of catered lunches in the office every day, maybe it's sandwiches from Subway once every two weeks now, said Carreau.

"Those peripheral fringe benefits can actually add up, especially in Calgary where we've had such lucrative compensation plans," she said.

"Some of those things that people don't automatically look at can actually save on costs and send the right message to the organization - that you care, but you're doing everything you can to keep the jobs."

Integra Ltd., a company with fewer than 30 employees that helps oil and gas companies manage their documents, has done everything possible to avoid layoffs, said partner Chris Blender.

Blender and the firm's other partners have taken a pay cut. Integra also found a new benefits provider that offers the same services as the old one, but at a lower cost.

"Because we're in the service industry, people are our business and we spend a lot of time to attract and train our people," he said. "The last thing we want to do is let anybody go during this time."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Obama administration urges Canada to reverse Super Bowl ad decision

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - In one of its final communications with Canada, the outgoing Obama administration is engaging in pigskin politics: asking the Trudeau government to overturn a regulation affecting ads during the Super Bowl. The U.S. Source
  • Oil and stock prices higher as Donald Trump sworn in

    Economic CBC News
    Stock markets responded to the first day of the Trump Administration in a largely positive way, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all higher on the day of his swearing in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 100 points to 19,829 just minutes before the new president formally acceded to the position. Source
  • Navdeep Bains defends open borders for global trade in Davos speech

    Economic CBC News
    Automakers on both sides of the border fear the potential negative effects of a Donald Trump presidency, Canada's economic development minister said Thursday as he met with international business and political leaders in Switzerland. Navdeep Bains said he's been having nervous conversations with concerned automakers, both at the recent auto show in Detroit and during his current visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Source
  • Will Trump end globalization? The doubt haunts Davos' elite

    Economic CTV News
    DAVOS, Switzerland -- It's been impossible to escape the shadow of Donald Trump at this year's gathering of the business elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Uncertainty over what Trump will do once he takes office Friday and whether his presidency will mark the end of globalization dominated discussions all week at this event, which more than any has become synonymous with international business. Source
  • Sears, N.B. partner for a 2nd new business centre expected to create 360 jobs

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- The New Brunswick government and Sears Canada Inc. announced their second partnership this week to open a business centre in the province with the help of millions of dollars of government funding. The provincial government is providing Sears (TSX:SCC) with about $5.2 million of funding to open its second new business centre in the province. Source
  • Canada's inflation rate rises to 1.5 per cent in December: StatsCan

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Canada's annual pace of inflation ticked higher in December, but the rate was weaker than expected as lower food prices helped offset increases in the transportation and shelter groups. Statistics Canada said Friday the consumer price index in December was up 1.5 per cent from where it was a year ago, a higher rate of inflation compared with November's increase of 1.2 per cent. Source
  • Cheaper food offsets December hike in gasoline: StatsCan

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Canada's annual pace of inflation ticked higher in December, but the increase was smaller than expected as lower food prices helped offset gasoline price increases at the pump. Statistics Canada said Friday the consumer price index in December was up 1.5 per cent from where it was a year ago, a higher rate of inflation compared with November's increase of 1.2 per cent. Source
  • Tim Hortons owner launches app to pay-and-go with no lining up

    Economic CBC News
    The parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King plans to launch an app Canada-wide this spring that would allow customers to order and pay in advance on their smartphone without lining up to pay a cashier. Source
  • Tim Hortons, Burger King to launch app in push towards automation

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King plans to launch an app Canada-wide this spring that would allow customers to order and pay in advance on their smartphone without lining up to pay a cashier. Source
  • Sharp increase in Americans interested in Canadian real estate: Royal LePage report

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - A new report from Royal LePage suggests many Americans who oppose incoming president Donald Trump continue showing a desire to purchase property in Canada. In a report released early Friday, the company says American web traffic on its website surged 329 per cent the day after the U.S. Source