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Alberta

$1,200.00 boost for “Alberta’s critical workers”

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From the Province of Alberta

$465 million for Alberta’s critical workers

Hundreds of thousands of workers who continue to provide critical services to Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic will receive a one-time payment in recognition of their hard work and sacrifice.

The Critical Worker Benefit is a joint federal-provincial program that will see $465 million go to approximately 380,000 Alberta public and private sector workers as $1,200 cash payments.

“These workers have placed themselves at the front line of this pandemic in order to serve their fellow citizens during a crisis. Alberta’s government is recognizing their good work. We trust this support will help these workers continue to protect lives and livelihoods as we keep fighting this pandemic together.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

The Critical Worker Benefit will be available to workers in the health-care, social services, education and private sectors who deliver critical services to Albertans or support food and medical supply chains.

“I want to thank all the hard-working staff who have gone above and beyond their regular call of duty to support their fellow Albertans throughout this pandemic. This Critical Worker Benefit will go right into the pockets of hard-working Albertans on the front line who have made sacrifices in their own lives for the greater good and well-being of others.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration

To be eligible for the benefit, employees must have worked a minimum of 300 hours during the period of Oct. 12, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021.

“Since the start of this pandemic, we have been deemed an essential service and our store, pharmacy and distribution centre teammates have stepped up to support Albertans and all Canadians. We know that our teammates will be thankful for this recognition and additional support from the Government of Alberta.”

Andrew Follwell, vice-president, HR, Labour Relations and IHM, Sobeys Inc.

Under the health-care sector, approximately 161,000 eligible employees will receive the Critical Worker Benefit. These eligible occupations include orderlies and patient service associates, respiratory therapists and technologists, nurses (RNs, RPNs, LPNs), food services, housekeeping and maintenance workers and unit clerks.

“I’m proud to see this acknowledgment of our front-line health-care workers. Their continued dedication over the past 11 months caring for patients with COVID-19, but also continuing to provide other important health-care services, has shown tremendous resilience. Their dedication is the strength of our health system and this is just one small way that we can recognize it.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

In the social services sector, approximately 45,000 workers will receive the benefit. Some of the eligible occupations include community disability service workers and practitioners, personal care aides, child development workers, family and youth counsellors, crisis intervention and shelter workers, home support workers, seniors lodge staff, cleaners, food preparation and maintenance workers.

“It has been due to the tremendous efforts of the front-line staff in seniors housing, that our most vulnerable are safe. The precautionary measures workers have taken within their homes and workplaces, where others’ wellness was prioritized over earning potential and personal enjoyments, is why this acknowledgment is so important. This shows appreciation for those our province has had to depend on to keep seniors healthy, happy and safe in licensed supportive living, including lodges, since the onset of the pandemic.”

Irene Martin-Lindsay, executive director, Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association (ASCHA)

“Every day, thousands of workers across Alberta support vulnerable people with disabilities and those relying on services provided by shelters. These workers are committed to ensuring people are safe and included in our communities. This benefit acknowledges their extraordinary efforts during the pandemic to provide compassionate and essential care for vulnerable Albertans.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services

“Community group care workers and support staff, as well as early childhood educators, have played a critical role in keeping children and youth safe and healthy throughout this pandemic – including staying open or reopening early on to support families. I want to share my sincere gratitude for all their hard work and dedication during these challenging times.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services

“Alberta’s seniors lodge workers and unique home operator staff have gone above and beyond to maintain a safe environment for their residents. I am extremely appreciative for the hard work, dedication, and effort of the front-line workers who support seniors and ensure they remain safe during the pandemic.”

Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing

Up to 36,000 workers in the education sector will also be eligible to receive the benefit. This includes teacher assistants, bus drivers, custodians and cleaning staff, and administration support.

“Despite the unique challenges that come with learning during a pandemic, students in Alberta continue to receive a world-class education. This is possible thanks to the hard work of thousands of dedicated education workers. This benefit recognizes their determination to go above and beyond for Alberta’s students.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“Bus drivers across the province have worked tremendously hard to keep students safe while going to and from school. This benefit helps recognize tremendous work done by these essential workers.”

David Shaw, president, Student Transportation Association of Alberta

In addition, eligible private sector workers making $25 or less will qualify for the benefit. These workers include: critical retail workers in grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations; private health provider workers, such as dental assistants, massage therapists and medical administration assistants; food manufacturing and processing workers; truck transportation workers, such as truck drivers and delivery and courier services drivers; and warehouse and storage workers, such as shippers and receivers.

Eligible public sector employees do not need to apply to receive the benefit. Employers will automatically receive the payment through the Government of Alberta to distribute to their eligible employees.

Private sector employers can apply on behalf of eligible employees at alberta.ca/criticalworkerbenefitas of Feb. 17. Employers have until March 19 to apply.

Employers will be responsible for distributing the $1,200 Critical Worker Benefit to their eligible employees.

For detailed information on eligibility and how to apply, please visit alberta.ca/criticalworkerbenefit.

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s government contributed $118 million toward the $465-million program.
  • The breakdown of benefit recipient is:
    • Up to $195 million in the health-care sector supporting more than 161,000 workers.
    • Up to $55 million toward the social services sector supporting more than 45,000 workers.
    • Up to $45 million toward the education sector supporting more than 36,000 workers.
    • Up to $170 million toward the private sector supporting more than 140,000 workers.
  • Previously allocated:
    • $12 million for health-care aides
    • $14.4 million for adult congregate care workers
    • $3.62 million for children’s congregate care workers

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Alberta

New surveillance teams led by the Alberta Sheriffs working with local police in rural communities

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More boots on the ground to fight rural crime

Rural crime continues to be a top concern among residents and businesses in rural Alberta, which is why Alberta’s government remains committed to addressing it through enhanced surveillance and other crime reduction initiatives. Alberta’s government invested $4.3 million for the Alberta Sheriffs to put more boots on the ground. This investment supported the establishment of two plainclothes teams – one in northern Alberta and one in southern Alberta – to support police in carrying out surveillance on criminal targets in rural areas.

Both teams are now fully staffed and operational, ready to fight crime in rural areas across Alberta. These rural surveillance teams will work to prevent crime, monitor agricultural theft and work in collaboration with local law enforcement to share intelligence and resources to keep Albertans and their property safe and secure.

“Criminals and organized crime are not welcome in Alberta. Full stop. The addition of two new surveillance teams will further support our law enforcement partners in stamping out criminal activity in Alberta’s rural areas. This is about supporting local investigations to address local crime in our smaller communities. Together, both teams will form another key component of Alberta’s efforts to combat crime and ensure Albertans feel safe at home and in their communities, regardless of where they live.”

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services

The Alberta Sheriffs have an existing surveillance unit that is part of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) and focused mainly on serious and organized crime investigations. The new surveillance teams will fill a gap by helping rural RCMP detachments with local investigations.

“Through their specialized knowledge, training and experience, Alberta’s new surveillance teams are providing another important mechanism in the fight against crime in Alberta’s rural communities. Working in close collaboration with the RCMP and other policing agencies, their efforts will play a key role in gathering evidence and information that will help disrupt crime throughout the province.”

Mike Letourneau, superintendent, Alberta Sheriffs

“This announcement by the Alberta government and Minister Ellis is a positive step forward for the residents of Alberta, especially in rural areas. Targeting known criminals is a very effective way to reduce the level of crime taking place and will greatly assist the RCMP who have a vast area to police.”

Lance Colby, mayor, Town of Carstairs

“We are happy to hear about increased resources being allocated to assist our communities. Addressing rural crime is one of the top priorities of the Alberta RCMP, and our partners at the Alberta Sheriffs already play a vital role in keeping Albertans safe. The creation of these new surveillance teams will help augment our ongoing crime reduction strategies in Alberta communities, and we look forward to working with them going forward.”

Trevor Daroux, assistant commissioner, criminal operations officer, Alberta RCMP

The new surveillance teams are part of a suite of measures to expand the role of the Alberta Sheriffs and make Alberta communities safer. Other actions include the expansion of the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit – which uses legal sanctions and court orders to target problem properties where illegal activities are taking place – and the expansion of the RAPID Response initiative with funding for the Sheriff Highway Patrol to train and equip members to assist the RCMP with emergencies and high-priority calls.

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Alberta

Start-up of Trans Mountain expansion ‘going very well’ as global buyers ink deals for Canadian crude

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A worker at Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Terminal. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Deborah Jaremko

Chinese refiner pays about US$10 more for oil off TMX compared to sales value in Alberta

Canada’s oil sands producers are “back in the limelight” for investors following completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, according to a report by Enervus Intelligence Research.

For the first time in the better part of a decade, there is now breathing room on the system to ship all of the oil producers are able to sell off the coast of B.C.

Up until this May, Trans Mountain was regularly overbooked. Not anymore.

The crude carrier Dubai Angel picked up the first shipment from the long-awaited expansion on May 22, setting sail for China and a customer of oil sands producer Suncor Energy.

Analysts estimate Trans Mountain loaded 20 vessels in June, compared to a pre-expansion average of five per month.

“You’re seeing multiple buyers. It’s going very well,” said Phil Skolnick, managing director of research with New York-based Eight Capital.

“You’re seeing the exact buyers that we always thought were going to show up, the U.S. west coast refineries and as well as the Asian refineries, and there was a shipment that went to India as well.”

The “Golden Weld” in April 2024 marked the mechanical completion and end of construction for the Trans Mountain expansion project. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

Canadian crude in demand on the global market

Asian markets – particularly China, where refineries can process “substantial quantities” of extra heavy crude and bitumen – are now “opened in earnest” to Canadian oil, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its June Oil 2024 report.

“There’s demand for this crude and people are going to make deals,” said Kevin Birn, chief analyst of Canadian oil markets with S&P Global.

The IEA said Canadian crude will increasingly compete with heavy oil from other countries, particularly those in Latin America and the Middle East.

June’s loading of 20 vessels is slightly lower than the 22 vessels Trans Mountain had targeted, but Skolnick said a few bumps in the project’s ramp-up are to be expected.

“About three months ago, the shippers were telling investors on their calls, don’t expect it to be a smooth ramp up, it’s going to be a bit bumpy, but I think they’re expecting by Q4 you should start seeing everyone at peak rates,” Skolnick said.

Delivering higher prices

Trans Mountain’s expanded Westridge Terminal at Burnaby, B.C. now has capacity to load 34 so-called “Aframax” vessels each month.

One of the first deals, with Chinese refiner Rongsheng Petrochemical, indicates the Trans Mountain expansion is delivering on one of its expected benefits – higher prices for Canadian oil.

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office has said that an increase of US$5 per barrel for Canadian heavy oil over one year would add $6 billion to Canada’s economy.

The June deal between Rongsheng and an unnamed oil sands shipper saw a shipment of Access Western Blend (AWB) purchased for approximately US$6 per barrel below the Brent global oil benchmark. That implies an AWB selling price of approximately US$75 per barrel, or about US$10 more than the price received for AWB in Alberta.

Expanded export capacity at the Trans Mountain Westridge Terminal. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

More pipeline capacity needed

Oil sands production – currently about 3.4 million barrels per day – is projected to rise to 3.8 million barrels per day by the end of the decade before declining slightly to about 3.6 million barrels per day in 2035, according to the latest outlook by S&P Global.

“Despite the recent completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, additional capacity will still be needed, likely via expansion or optimization of the existing pipeline system,” wrote Birn and S&P senior research analyst Celina Hwang in May.

“By 2026, we forecast the need for further export capacity to ensure that the system remains balanced on pipeline economics.”

Uncertainty over the federal government’s proposed oil and gas emissions cap “adds hesitation” to companies considering large-scale production growth, wrote Birn and Hwang.

Global oil demand rising

World oil demand, which according to the IEA reached a record 103 million barrels per day in 2023, is projected to continue rising despite increased investment in renewable and alternative energy.

June outlook by the International Energy Forum (IEF) pegs 2030 oil demand at nearly 110 million barrels per day.

“More investment in new oil and gas supply is needed to meet growing demand and maintain energy market stability, which is the foundation of global economic and social well-being,” said IEF secretary Joseph McMonigle.

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