From the Province of Alberta
Federal energy stimulus package: Premier Kenney
Premier Jason Kenney issued the following statement on the federal government’s energy stimulus package:
“How we come through this economic crisis will depend in large part on the survival and the successful recovery of our country’s largest industry – the energy sector – on which some 800,000 Canadian jobs depend. We thank the federal government for taking this important first step to support the folks who work in our energy sector.
“The $1 billion partnership to address inactive wells aligns with Alberta’s commitment to ensuring our resources are developed in an environmentally sustainable fashion. This funding will immediately save or create thousands of jobs, keeping energy service companies going during these devastating times. It will also help us bring sites back to their original condition, leaving a cleaner environment for future generations. The $200 million loan to the Orphan Well Association will also help these efforts, demonstrating our commitment to producing Canadian energy under the world’s highest environmental standards.
“More support is needed to deal with the crisis in Canada’s energy sector, but this is a great first step. Our energy sector is facing its biggest challenge ever, and we need to be sure that industry can access the capital it needs to survive and thrive in future years. When the auto sector and the banks were threatened during the global financial crisis a decade ago, the economic strength of Alberta, powered by the energy industry, ensured that Canada was able to provide the urgent support they needed. We will continue to work with the federal government to ensure that the energy sector now gets the support it needs as it faces its own threats from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saudi-Russia price war.
“This unprecedented disruption in the world energy markets will eventually recede. Better times for the industry are a matter of when – not if – but only if the industry survives the next couple of years. We need to make sure Alberta is prepared and ready for the global recovery when the time comes. Alberta’s energy industry is the lifeblood of our provincial economy – and the largest subsector of Canada’s economy, as well as one of its biggest employers. The energy sector helps some of our country’s most important industries thrive, including health care, manufacturing and transportation.
“We are grateful for this job-creating initiative, and we will continue to work with the federal government until the energy sector has what it needs to survive and thrive for the benefit of all Canadians.”
From the Alberta NDP Caucus
SCHMIDT STATEMENT ON FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR ENERGY INDUSTRY
Marlin Schmidt, NDP Environment Critic, issued the following statement regarding the federal government’s aid package for Alberta’s energy industry:
“Cleaning up oil and gas sites is good news for our energy sector workers, landowners, and our environment. From day one, we have been advocating for support to cleanup orphan wells. It will put thousands of Albertans back to work while supporting responsible resource development.
“The UCP government must use this money in a way that ensures polluters still pay for the cleanup of their sites. They must also set clear targets and timelines for well cleanup now and into the future. I also hope the UCP will ensure landowners and municipalities are compensated for wells on their land.
“While this is good news for our energy sector and landowners, there are still a lot of Albertans and businesses struggling to make ends meet. I wish Premier Kenney and the UCP would step up and provide real leadership to support all Albertans and all sectors of our province instead of constantly relying on the federal government to act first.”
From the Alberta Federation of Labour
Alberta unions applaud federal support for oil and gas workers
“The money for orphan wells and methane reduction, announced by the federal government today, will help the environment and create jobs at a time when they’re desperately needed,” says the president of Alberta’s largest worker advocacy organization.
“This is a classic win-win scenario,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “The $1.7 billion being dedicated to orphan and abandoned wells can be put to use almost immediately. It will help address a problem that has been simmering in Alberta for years and, in the process, it will put literally thousands of people in the oil field service industry back to work. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most constructive things that the federal government can do to help oil and gas workers at this time. It’s greatly appreciated.”
McGowan says he’s also very happy with the work the federal government did to get input from a wide variety of stakeholders.
“Here in Alberta, we’re used to our provincial governments consulting only with industry and then making a policy based on that narrow range of perspectives. But the federal government took a very different approach, consulting with workers, environmental groups, landowners and others, in addition to industry. It’s very refreshing. And, I think it shows that you get better policy outcomes when you take the time to hear from a wider cross-section of people.”
Of the $1.7 billion ear-marked for well remediation, $200 million will go directly to Alberta’s Orphan Well Association and $1 billion will go directly to the Alberta government. Alberta will be required to address concerns about how the whole issue of orphan wells is managed going forward.
“That last point is really important to us,” concluded McGowan. “This money won’t just create jobs; it will also require the Alberta government to clean up its act when it comes to implementing and overseeing rules requiring oil and gas companies to clean up their acts. That’s very good news for our province.”
From the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada
PCA: Federal Aid Package for Oil and Gas Sector a Beginning
The $1.7 billion aid package announced today for the oil and gas sector is a welcome start, according to the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) which has seen many of its member company operations in the oil sands sector scaled back, shut down or delayed, resulting in thousands of layoffs.
“It’s a good day when thousands of jobs in Western Canada can be saved,” said Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA). “However, with a record number of energy companies folding, it will take far more to stave off a full-scale collapse.”
Prime Minister Trudeau announced $1.7 billion in funding to clean up orphaned oil wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The aid is expected to maintain as many as 5,200 jobs in Alberta alone.
“We’re still waiting for a federal aid package that fairly reflects the value and importance of the oil and gas industry,” added de Jong. “Given that this sector accounts for more than a tenth of GDP and employs tens of thousands of workers, the government still has a long way to go in demonstrating a real commitment to its survival.”
Last week, PCA sent Trudeau a letter, urging his government to provide support to the oil and gas sector without further delay.
About the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) With offices in BC, Alberta and Ontario, PCA is the voice of progressive unionized employers in Canada’s construction industry. Our member companies are responsible for 40 percent of energy and natural resource construction projects in British Columbia and Alberta and are leaders in infrastructure construction across Canada. PCA member companies employ more than 25,000 skilled construction workers in Canada, represented primarily by CLAC.
From the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
CAPP issues statement recognizing the Government of Canada’s support for the oil and natural gas industry
“The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) recognizes the Government of Canada’s support for the oil and natural gas industry, and appreciates the initiatives announced today which will protect about 10,000 jobs across the country.
The $1.7 billion announced today, for the closure and reclamation of orphan and inactive wells in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, is welcome news. Reducing environmental liabilities is a priority for the oil and natural gas industry and this initiative will allow important work to accelerate, while supporting thousands of jobs.
The government also announced a $750 million emissions reduction fund which will help companies continue their progress to reduce methane emissions. Canada’s oil and natural gas industry has committed to a 45 percent reduction of methane emissions by 2025, and the government is helping ensure that innovation and progress in this key area can continue during the economic crisis.
We are also encouraged by news that the government is working with the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to strengthen support for corporations who are most at risk. Liquidity is a real and immediate challenge for oil and natural gas producers and CAPP has been working with the federal government to identify urgent action needed to address the dire situation. We are awaiting additional details on the expansion of support — a critically important matter as companies try to weather the current crisis.
CAPP will continue to talk with all levels of government to ensure adequate support is in place to help businesses and jobs survive this unprecedented economic crisis. Survival of the energy sector will be crucial to Canada’s economic recovery.”
-Tim McMillan, President and CEO – Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
From Cenovus, Brett Harris, Manager of Communications
We are appreciative that the federal government recognizes the dire situation the energy industry is in with the decrease in oil demand due to COVID-19 resulting in unprecedented low oil prices. The industry is in survival mode and needs the government to provide support to help companies preserve cash and access additional liquidity so they can still be here to help rebuild the economy once the immediate crisis passes.
We need more details about the federal aid for inactive and abandoned wells and methane emissions reduction. Cenovus has a strong history of addressing these areas of environmental responsibility and we will continue to take proactive actions so the government funding may help us progress these activities. Again, we still need to see the details.
The most important action the federal government can take to ensure the industry remains strong is by providing a temporary safety net in the form of increased access to liquidity. There are many options for this support to be delivered and we are urging the government to take swift action to pursue that.
‘No option:’ Alberta bans home gatherings as COVID-19 cases continue to climb
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, his province bending precariously under the weight of record COVID-19 cases, imposed new sweeping public health restrictions Tuesday that include a ban on gatherings in people’s homes.
Kenney also announced changes to schools, churches, restaurants and retailers, and banned sports teams from playing and sharply curtailed attendance at weddings and funerals.
He said the goal is to slash the rate of infections and keep people alive while preventing the loss of jobs and livelihoods that threaten to make an already dire situation even worse.
“This whole thing is just incredibly tough for everyone,” Kenney said Tuesday.
“I just never imagined I’d be in this place in public life where I was telling people who could come visit them at home.
“We really just felt we had no option given that 40 per cent of traceable cases connect back to private social activity.”
Indoor gatherings are banned immediately, but people who live alone can have two personal contacts they are allowed to meet up with.
Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people, as are funerals and weddings.
Kenney said the government is still working out how officers will enforce the gathering ban, but said there will be not be a “snitch line” for people to report on their neighbours.
“(Officers) will be able to write tickets for fines of up to $1,000 per individual who is violating these rules against indoor social activities.”
He added that police and peace officers will have latitude on enforcement
“They will be able to see if there are obvious signs of a large gathering, a lot of cars parked outside somebody’s house, for example,” Kenney said.
Starting Friday, businesses will remain open at reduced capacity or by appointment only.
Places of worship must operate at one-third capacity. Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.
And children in grades 7 through 12 will move to at-home learning at the end of the month and other students will follow after Dec. 18.
The orders will be reviewed in three weeks.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday — the sixth consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 348 patients in hospital, 66 of them in intensive care. Sixteen more people died, bringing that total to 492.
A day earlier, Hinshaw compared the COVID-19 situation in Alberta to a snowball rolling down a hill, growing in size and speed.
Lives and livelihoods have been the crux of the debate in Alberta. Kenney has maintained that the best approach is targeted health restrictions to keep COVID-19 from overrunning the health-care system while keeping the economy from collapsing.
Others, including many physicians, infectious disease specialists and the Opposition NDP, have called for sharp, short economic lockdowns, arguing that if the COVID-19 wave isn’t stopped, there won’t be an economy left to save.
Kenney’s decisions were made after Hinshaw made new undisclosed recommendations Monday to the cabinet subcommittee directing COVID-19 decisions.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley called the new restrictions “half-measures” and said they were likely the result of political bargaining instead of advice from public health officials.
“We cannot know, unfortunately, exactly what Dr. Hinshaw recommended to this UCP cabinet. But I do not for one second believe it was this,” she said.
Mike Parker, head of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, a union representing paramedics and other health professionals, said Kenney tried to find the middle ground and failed.
“The measures announced today are inadequate,” Parker said.
“(Kenney) continues to put business interests ahead of the well-being of Albertans.”
Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the groups supports the move “to move to a combination of in-school and at-home learning that will allow schooling to continue in a safer environment.”
This is the second time Kenney’s government has imposed sweeping rules to combat COVID-19.
The province shut down many retail businesses, restaurants, recreation centres and schools during the first wave in March. Most were allowed to reopen in May and June with restrictions. Schools opened again in the fall.
In recent weeks, the province has limited public gatherings in areas including Edmonton and Calgary and forced bars and restaurants to stop serving booze by 10 p.m. and to close by 11 p.m.
Indoor group fitness and team sports, along with group singing and arts performances, are also banned in several large cities.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
A look at new restrictions in Alberta to battle rising COVID-19 infections
EDMONTON — The Alberta government announced Tuesday new restrictions to battle record-high rates of COVID-19 infections in the province. In addition to declaring a public health emergency, the government ordered the following for the next three weeks:
— No indoor social gatherings. Funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people, as are outdoor gatherings. Churches are restricted to one-third normal attendance.
— Restaurants and bars can remain open. But a maximum of six people from the same household can sit at a table and there must be no movement between tables. People who live alone can meet with two people.
— Retail stores can remain open at 25 per cent capacity.
— At-home learning for students in Grades 7 through 12 starting Monday. Other students are to do their schooling from home starting Dec. 18 before winter break. All students are to resume at-home learning after the break and can return to school Jan . 11.
— Casinos can remain open at 25 per cent capacity with slot machines only.
— The closure of banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, community centres, and indoor play places.
— A halt on all levels of sport, although exemptions may be considered.
— Mandatory masks for indoor workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surroundings areas.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.
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