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Alberta

“Ontario Can’t do it Alone” – Fairness Alberta Expands with Eastern Canada Campaign

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It has been just over four months since the launch of Fairness Alberta, a non-partisan Proudly Canadian, Fiercely Albertan organization, in May 2020. Fairness Alberta promotes education and discussion to combat biased government policies and regulations that restrict Alberta’s economic growth and prosperity. By highlighting Alberta’s $324 billion net contribution to the Canadian economy from 2000 to 2019, FA’s mandate is to “inform Canadians about the magnitude of the contributions Albertans make to Canada, while educating Canadian’s about the damaging fiscal, trade, energy, procurement, and infrastructure policies that chronically undermine Alberta’s – and Canada’s – potential.”

Dr. Bill Bewick, Director of Fairness Alberta

The public response to the organization throughout Alberta and across Canada has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Bill Bewick, Executive Director of Fairness Alberta. “Our factual approach is agreeable,” he says, “and even people who are skeptical of Alberta demanding more from the country are willing to listen and learn.”
On September 21, Fairness Alberta expanded into eastern Canada with the launch of their Fall 2020 Campaign in Ontario. The two-part billboard series in Toronto and Ottawa is designed to illustrate just how much Albertans have helped Ontarians carry the fiscal load in the federation over the last decade. “Many people are surprised by the fiscal contributions of each province given the size difference,” says Bewick, “people assume Ontario makes the biggest contribution, but that’s just not the case.”
From 2007-2018, Ontario contributed $98 billion net and Alberta contributed $240 billion net to the country, while the remainder of the provinces have received a combined total of $370 billion.

 

As all Canadian provinces face the daunting road to recovery following the destructive economic impacts of COVID-19, the dissemination of accurate information regarding the crucial role of Alberta in the nation’s recovery remains crucial. Arguably even more so since the recent Throne Speech, delivered by Governor General Julie Payette on September 23, has been widely criticized for once again ignoring the contributions and needs of Albertans in favor of new policies that will further restrict productivity in Alberta by targeting natural gas.

Premiere Jason Kenney openly criticized the Throne Speech and the clean-fuel standard, stating, “We got a litany of policies that would strangle investment and jeopardize resource jobs when we most need the industry that generates 20 percent of government revenues in Canada” (1). 

Fairness Alberta has responded similarly to developments from the recent Throne Speech, arguing that Alberta’s role in national recovery cannot be overstated or ignored. “Alberta is an engine in the fragile Canadian economy,” says Bewick, “If that productivity is hindered by the new clean fuel standards, no other province will be able to pick up the slack.” 

The Ontario campaign is set to continue into the month of November, paired with online advertising that draws targeted audiences to their website, and the remainder of 2020 will see an expansion into British Columbia as Fairness Alberta continues to grow and fight for a fair deal for Alberta within Canada.  Bewick believes that “there are millions of fair-minded Canadians out there and showing them the importance of Alberta’s economy is critical right now to ensure the federal government works with Alberta, not against it.” 

For more information on Fairness Alberta, visit fairnessalberta.ca

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Athabasca Oil adopts lower 2021 budget, spends to maintain oilsands production

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CALGARY — A Canadian oil company with production from both oilsands and light oil and gas wells is forecasting lower spending and little change in production in 2021.

Athabasca Oil Corp. says it plans to spend $75 million next year, versus $85 million in 2020, with $70 million of that focused on drilling wells to sustain production at its Leismer oilsands project, which employs steam to produce bitumen.

It says it plans to drill no new wells in its light oil division but added its minimal capital program is flexible depending upon changes in commodity prices.

Athabasca expects 2021 production of between 31,000 and 33,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (10 per cent natural gas), similar to its 2020 average output of about 32,250 boe/d.  

Last month, the company reported a third-quarter net loss of $18.8 million, versus a loss of $8.3 million in the year-earlier period, on lower bitumen production and oil prices.

It reported bitumen output of 20,200 barrels per day, down from 25,200 in the same period of 2019, due to a maintenance shutdown at its Hangingstone thermal oilsands project, while light oil and gas output grew to 11,830 boe/d from 10,000 boe/d.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:ATH)

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘Dealing with a lot:’ Suicide crisis calls mount during COVID-19 pandemic

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CALGARY — Hannah Storrs has needed to take more breaks than usual during her shifts on a 24-hour crisis line as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the struggles of those reaching out for help. 

Distress Centre Calgary says suicide-related calls, texts and chats were up 66 per cent in October compared with the same month in 2019.

Of the more than 4,800 interactions last month, nearly one-quarter dealt with suicide. That could mean someone contemplating ending his or her life or an attempt in progress. 

“We’re seeing it more back-to-back rather than the odd one here and there that is more intense,” says Storrs, the centre’s crisis team lead.

“People are dealing with a lot right now. They’re dealing with isolation. They’re dealing with mental health issues. They’re dealing with financial issues on top of being just scared of what can happen in the world.”

Storrs says calls, where there is an imminent risk, are in the minority and emergency services are only called in rare cases. Most often she and her colleagues help people develop a plan that will get them through the moment. 

The work is more emotionally draining now than it was before the pandemic, she says. She makes sure to take breaks to calm herself after tough calls — something the centre encourages along with extra debriefing time. 

“We can’t help other people if we’re not helping ourselves first, especially being on the lines.”

She says she didn’t realize it was taking a toll until she found herself feeling frustrated and ruminating about calls after work, wondering what more she could have done to help. 

It has also been physically exhausting.

“Honestly, after a shift, I would just have to go take a nap. I’d be tired.”

Diane Jones Konihowski, the distress centre’s director of fund development and communications, says suicide-related calls were also rising over the summer, which was a concern because it was still nice outside.

“We assume that those numbers and percentages are going to go up as we get into — 20 C, we get into the ice and snow, where people are really not going out as much as they normally do.”

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service, a national network of crisis lines, says there’s been a 200 per cent increase in calls and texts between October 2019 and the same month this year.

People in crisis call a centralized line, which routes them to a distress centre in their community.

While volumes have gone up, there has not been a parallel rise in “active rescues” that require emergency intervention, says Dr. Allison Crawford, the service’s chief medical officer.

The service has added backup responders to deal with the surge, added Crawford, who is also a psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. 

Between 15 and 20 per cent of those reaching out during the pandemic have mentioned COVID-19, though the service doesn’t keep track of more specific virus-related contacts. 

Crawford says that is likely to mirror the results of a series of surveys the Toronto-based centre and technology company Delvinia have done throughout the pandemic. 

The most recent one with more than 1,000 respondents in September found about one-fifth were experiencing moderate to severe anxiety, loneliness and depression. 

Eighteen per cent said they were very worried about their finances and 26 per cent said they were very worried about contracting COVID-19, or someone close to them getting sick. 

Research has shown that historically there’s a link between economic downturns and increased suicides, Crawford says.

But it’s too soon to know the toll the pandemic and its associated economic strife have taken. 

“We know that we’re seeing this increase in calls. We don’t yet know whether we’re experiencing an increase in actual completed suicides. There’s no evidence to this point to suggest that.”

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: Online crisisservicescanada.ca. Phone 1-833 456-4566. Text — 45645 (4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET)

Distress Centre Calgary: Online distresscentre.com. Phone 403-266-HELP (4357)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec 3, 2020.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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