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Alberta

Have Alberta’s Skilled Workers had Enough?

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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.

Alberta

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

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RED DEER, Alta. — Hockey Canada has temporarily shutdown national junior team selection camp following the confirmation of two positive COVID-19 tests among players.

Hockey Canada announced on Wednesday that players, coaches and staff at the camp have entered a 14-day quarantine retroactive to Monday. All camp activities will be paused until Dec. 6. 

The original announcement of the positive player tests came on Tuesday — three days after Hockey Canada said a “non-core member” of the team’s staff also tested positive. Hockey Canada said it was suspending all camp activities for the day, including a scheduled intrasquad game, at the time.

Both players and the staff have been in quarantine at the team’s hotel in Red Deer, Alta. 

Players, coaches and staff all took mandatory COVID-19 tests upon arrival at the camp and have been tested regularly while there.

Hockey Canada is in the midst of their selection camp ahead of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton that opens on Christmas Day. 

“Hockey Canada has confirmed that all players, coaches and staff are considered close contacts and are therefore subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period under Alberta Health Services,” said senior vice-president of national teams, Scott Salmond.

“Upon learning of the positive tests on Monday, the decision was made to suspend all camp activities and quarantine players and staff immediately. As per Hockey Canada’s safety protocols, all players, coaches and staff members will go through additional testing before resuming any camp activities.”

Canada seeks its second consecutive gold medal at the tournament, which would be its 19th title all-time. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Crude-by-rail shipments bounce back from summer lows in September, says CER

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CALGARY — Canadian exports of crude oil by rail are bouncing back after falling to an eight-year low in July.

The Canada Energy Regulator says rail shipments of oil in September amounted to 94,440 barrels per day, nearly double the 51,000 bpd shipped in August.

Only 39,000 bpd was shipped in July. That’s less than a tenth of the record 412,000 bpd moved by rail in February.

Rail transportation of crude oil is considered to be more expensive than shipping by pipeline so shippers tend to use it only when pipelines are full or if the destination market offers much higher prices than can be achieved in Canada.

The CER says the lower use of rail compared with February results from lower crude oil production in Western Canada as global oil demand slumps due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reduced production levels have freed up more space on export pipelines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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