The Canadian oil and gas industry suffered another blow on Sunday, October 25, when Cenovus Energy Inc. announced a $3.8 billion merger with 82-year old Canadian oil and gas company, Husky Energy. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Husky is projected to lose up to 25% of its workforce as a result of the merger, approximately 2,150 jobs – mainly in Calgary.
The news, which fell on Alberta’s increasingly restless population of unemployed workers and struggling families, many of whom believe Alberta has been left out in the cold for far too long already, has fueled ongoing discussions of a provincial brain drain.
Simply put, brain drain is defined as “the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector or field, usually for better pay or living conditions”. Recent statistics show this concept is rapidly gaining traction in Alberta as residents seek to escape the increasingly grim economic landscape to pursue opportunities elsewhere, beyond the provincial borders.
As Canada’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, Alberta is no stranger to the boom and bust nature of the industry, experiencing cyclical periods of economic prosperity influenced by global conditions followed by detrimental crashes and ensuing hard times. Prior to this year, Alberta experienced a major economic crash in 2015, with the Canadian oil and gas industry suffering a $91 billion loss in revenue and layoffs reaching 35,000 workers in Alberta alone (1).
In the last 5 years, countless Albertans have struggled to regain their footing on shaky economic and political grounds, suffering substantial losses and insecurity. In this setting, the catastrophic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with pipeline delays and ongoing cuts in the Canadian oil and gas sector have left many Albertans with the feeling of being kicked while already down.
According to the Government of Alberta Economic Dashboard, the price of oil for many Alberta oil producers fell 36.6% from September 2019, averaging $28.43 USD per barrel in September 2020, according to the Western Canada Select (WCS) price. The coinciding unemployment rate in Alberta was 11.7% in September 2020, down from its 15.5% spike in May 2020, but still 6.6% higher than in September 2019 (2).
At this point, it seems a number of Albertans have simply had enough. According to The Alberta Annual Population Report 2019/20, “Alberta’s interprovincial migration patterns are heavily influenced by the economic conditions in the province, and as the economy cooled, the province experienced net outflows.” The report shows that 2,733 residents left Alberta between April and June 2020.
The loss of another 2,150 oil and gas jobs as a result of the Cenovus merger comes as a disappointing yet predictable defeat for industry workers who have remained “down on their luck” for many years in Alberta. Effectively decimating industries worldwide, the pandemic has also successfully pulled the rug from beneath Alberta’s shaky footing, tanking oil and gas once more and leaving countless skilled workers with nowhere to go but out.
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
Province orders dismissal of Chestermere Mayor, three councillors, and all three CAO’s
City of Chestermere/Facebook)
City of Chestermere councillors and senior staff dismissed
Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver has issued a ministerial order dismissing four of the City of Chestermere’s municipal councillors and all three chief administrative officers (CAOs).
After the city failed to comply with the supervision of the official administrator and some of the minister’s directives that have been in place since March 15, 2023, Minister McIver has dismissed Mayor Jeff Colvin, Coun. Mel Foat, Coun. Blaine Funk and Coun. Stephen Hanley, as well as the three CAOs.
The directives, intended to restore good governance to the City of Chestermere, were issued following a municipal inspection. Since then, the city has continued to be managed in an irregular, improper and improvident manner.
“The directives issued by my predecessor are not onerous and represent the bare minimum that citizens ought to expect from their municipal government. However, after undertaking all reasonable efforts to have the city comply with its obligations, it has failed to do so. I am profoundly disappointed that it has come to this, but the people of Chestermere deserve better. This community should be able to have trust in its local elected government.”
While the minister determined that the city has failed to comply with its obligations, he has also determined that dismissal of Coun. Shannon Dean, Coun. Sandy Johal-Watt and Coun. Ritesh Narayan was not justified given their efforts to hold council to account and attempt to move council in a more positive direction toward proper governance practices and compliance with legislation.
Councillors Dean, Johal-Watt and Narayan remain as elected councillors but will have no role in the governance of the city until a byelection is held and council quorum is restored.
The ministerial order dismissing Chestermere council members and senior administration is effective Dec. 4. An official administrator and interim CAO are in place to oversee the City of Chestermere’s governance and operations until a byelection is held to elect new councillors for the vacant positions at a date to be determined in 2024.
- A municipal inspection was ordered by the minister of Municipal Affairs under the Municipal Government Act (Section 571) in May 2022.
- The independent inspection, which concluded in September 2022, found the City of Chestermere to be managed in an irregular, improper and improvident manner.
- An official administrator was appointed in September 2022 to supervise the municipality and its council.
- On March 15, 2023, the minister of Municipal Affairs issued 12 binding directives through a ministerial order requiring the City of Chestermere to take action to address key areas of concern.
- On Oct. 18, the minister of Municipal Affairs issued to the City of Chestermere a notice of intent to issue a ministerial order which would dismiss all seven council members from office, as well as all three CAOs.
Premier Smith reacts to Liberal Government’s announcement on new methane reduction targets at COP 28
Federal methane emissions targets: Joint statement
“Once again, the federal government is setting unrealistic targets and timelines. Infrastructure can only be updated as quickly as technology allows. For example, Alberta will not accept nor impose a total ban on flaring at this time, as it is a critical health and safety practice during production. Any regulation that completely prohibits this is putting lives at risk”
Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz issued the following statement on the federal government’s proposed methane emissions regulations:
“The federal government has unilaterally established new methane emissions rules and targets to help win international headlines. Instead of building on Alberta’s award-winning approach, Ottawa wants to replace it with costly, dangerous and unconstitutional new federal regulations that won’t benefit anyone beyond Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault’s post-office career.
“Managing emissions from Alberta’s oil and gas industry is our constitutional right and responsibility, not Ottawa’s, and we are getting the job done. Using a province-led approach, Alberta has already reduced methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 per cent – hitting our target three years early – and we’re just getting started.
“Meanwhile, not only is it illegal for Ottawa to attempt to regulate our industries in this manner, Ottawa also hasn’t even hit one of its past arbitrary and unscientific emissions targets largely because it has little to no credible expertise regulating the natural resource, agricultural and other industry sectors in this space.
“Ottawa could have helped us keep reducing emissions with joint incentive programs in line with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan. It could have listened to the Supreme Court’s declaration that the Impact Assessment Act was unconstitutional and abandoned this kind of arrogant and ineffective scheme. Instead, these new regulations threaten our successful province-led approach and impede good work that’s already underway.
“Once again, the federal government is setting unrealistic targets and timelines. Infrastructure can only be updated as quickly as technology allows. For example, Alberta will not accept nor impose a total ban on flaring at this time, as it is a critical health and safety practice during production. Any regulation that completely prohibits this is putting lives at risk. A total ban would also be costly, resulting in shut-ins and loss of production.
“This approach will also cost tens of billions in infrastructure upgrades, yet Ottawa has provided virtually no financial support to do so. Thousands of Albertans could be put out of work in the coming years due to these costly regulations. A federal government willing to invest $37.7 billion into just three battery plants in Ontario and Quebec cannot credibly refuse to provide tax credits and financial incentives for producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan to assist with achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.
“For years, Alberta, not Ottawa, has done the hard work and achieved results. We strongly support reducing methane emissions and have invested tens of millions into developing these technologies. Minister Guilbeault must work with us, and not against us, to keep cutting methane emissions and charting a course for carbon neutrality by 2050.
“Given the unconstitutional nature of this latest federal intrusion into our provincial jurisdiction, our government will use every tool at our disposal to ensure these absurd federal regulations are never implemented in our province.”
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