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Alberta

Retired Oil Field Worker sparks national conversation with his pitch for a new route to move Alberta Oil

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer / editorialist (and former oil field worker) Garfield Marks. 

We have not been able to run our bitumen through a pipeline to a refinery in New Brunswick. There has been resistance in parts of Ontario and in Quebec. What if we came up with another plan. Would we consider it? There will be road blocks, but not insurmountable, would we consider it?
Yes how about Thunder Bay?
Thunder Bay, Ontario, the largest Canadian port of the St. Lawrence Seaway located on the west end of Lake Superior, 1850 kms. from Hardisty, Alberta. A forgotten jewel.
So what, you may ask. 
They used to ship grain from Thunder Bay in huge tankers to ports all over the world. Why not oil?
The Saint Lawrence Seaway ships fuel, gasoline and diesel tankers, to this day.
We could run oil tankers to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, bypassing the controversial pipeline running through eastern Ontario and Quebec.
The pipeline, if that was the transport model chosen, would only need to run through parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Like, previously stated the pipeline would only be 1850 kms. long. 
The other great thing about Thunder Bay is the abundance of rail lines. Transportation for such things as grain and forestry products from western Canada. If you can’t run pipeline from Hardisty, through to Thunder Bay, use the railroad.
Why Hardisty, you may ask.
Hardisty, according to Wikipedia,  is mainly known as a pivotal petroleum industry hub where petroleum products such as Western Canada Select blended crude oil and Hardisty heavy oil are produced, stored and traded.
The Town of Hardisty owes its very existence to the Canadian Pacific Railway. About 1904 the surveyors began to survey the railroad from the east and decided to locate a divisional point at Hardisty because of the good water supply from the river. 
Hardisty, Alberta has the railroad and has the product, the storage capacity, and the former Alberta government planned on investing $3.7 billion in rail cars for hauling oil while Thunder Bay has the railroad and an under utilised port at the head of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Economics are there along with opportunity, employment would be created and the east coast could end its’ dependency on imported oil. 
Do we have the vision or willingness to consider another option. I am just asking for all avenues to be considered.
In my interviews in Ontario there is a willingness to discuss this idea. 
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 

We could consider it, could we not?
CBC NEWS did a story about this idea on March 7 2019;
A retired oil field worker in Alberta has “floated” a novel solution to Alberta’s oil transportation woes: pipe the bitumen to Thunder Bay, Ont., then ship it up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Irving oil refinery in New Brunswick.
Marks’ proposal might be more than a pipe dream, according to the director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.
‘I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea’
“I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea,” Warren Mabee said. “I think that there’s some flaws to it … but this is an idea that could work in certain circumstances and at certain times of year. … It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The chief executive officer of the Port of Thunder Bay said shipping oil from the port “could easily be done.” 
“We ship refined gasoline and diesel up from Sarnia. We’ve done that for many many years,” Tim Heney told CBC. “So it’s not something that’s that far-fetched.”
There are, however, plenty of potential drawbacks to shipping crude through the Seaway, Mabee explained, not least of which is the fact that it isn’t open year-round.

The need to store oil or redirect it during the winter months could be costly, he said.
Potential roadblocks
Another potential pitfall is capacity, he added; there may not be enough of the right-sized tankers available to carry the oil through the Seaway. 
Finally, he said, the journey by sea from Lake Superior to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick is a long one, so it might make more sense to transport the product to a closer facility such as the one in Sarnia, Ont.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 
So far, no producer has come forward seeking to ship crude through Thunder Bay, he said. 

Asked about the possible environmental risks of shipping oil on Lake Superior, both Hodgson and Heney said shipping by tanker is relatively safe; Hodgson noted that any tankers carrying the product would have to be double-hulled, and crews are heavily vetted. 
Time to rethink pipelines?
There hasn’t been a spill in the Seaway system for more than 20 years he said. 
Nonetheless, Mabee said, the potential for an oil spill on the Great Lakes could be a huge issue. 
“The St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes have a lot of people living in close proximity, a lot of people who rely on it for drinking water,” he said. “There’s a delicate ecosystem there. I think a lot of people would push back against this proposal simply from that perspective.”
In fact, one of the reasons Mabee appreciates Marks’ proposal, he said, is because it invites people to weigh the pros and cons of different methods of transporting oil. 
“If we’re not going to build pipelines, but we’re going to continue to use oil, it means that people are going to be looking at some of these alternative transport options,” he said.

“And if we don’t want oil on those alternative transport options, we need to give the pipelines another thought.

Time to consider all options, I dare say.

​Garfield Marks​

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Alberta

NDP mocks Alberta premier’s UCP for taking COVID cash from ‘sugar daddy’ Trudeau

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EDMONTON — The Alberta Opposition says Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives have a new “sugar daddy” in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and should not accept a federal COVID-19 wage subsidy the party has applied for.

NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips says Kenney and his colleagues need to do more for Albertans fighting to get through the pandemic and a spiralling economy.

“I’m sensing a theme here,” Phillips told the house in question period Thursday.

“Worry about yourself first, even if it means making Justin Trudeau the UCP’s sugar daddy, but do nothing for working people.”

Kenney’s party recently said it was applying for the federal wage subsidy because it was the best way to pay staff in a locked-down economy that erased party fundraising opportunities.

Notley’s New Democrats are not taking the subsidy. She reminded Kenney his party is asking for help from a federal leader he publicly disparaged in 2018 as a dilettante and a lightweight.

“An empty trust fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl,” said Notley. “That’s the premier describing his new biggest donor: the prime minister.”

Notley said the wage subsidy is meant for businesses that have lost revenue due to the pandemic.

“They are exploiting a loophole to get their hands on federal cash, while thousands of Alberta businesses get left out in the cold,” she said.

“Will the premier stop distracting and instead … step up to make sure federal money can get to the struggling Alberta businesses it is meant for?”

Kenney did not respond directly, but instead accused NDP of shameful behaviour for sending out fundraising letters tied to the growing COVID pandemic.

“Unlike the NDP, the UCP suspended partisan fundraising for weeks following the beginning of the pandemic out of respect for Albertans,” said Kenney.

“But on March 17, the day a public health emergency was declared, the NDP sent out a begging letter trying to monetize the pandemic. Shame on them.”

The letter from education critic Sarah Hoffman asked for a donation and noted that “the COVID-19 outbreak reminds us of the importance of a well-funded public health-care system and a government that has the backs of everyday people.”

While Kenney’s UCP won the provincial election in the spring of 2019, it finished the year with a $2.3-million deficit and net liabilities of $1.1 million.

The NDP, the only other party with members in the Alberta legislature, recorded a surplus of almost $750,000 in 2019 with net liabilities of about $377,000.

Federally, the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Green party have all applied for the wage subsidy. The Bloc Quebecois has not.

Under the $73-billion program, Ottawa will cover 75 per cent of wages — up to $847 a week per employee — for companies and organizations that saw revenues from January and February decline by 15 per cent in March or 30 per cent in April and May.

Political parties as non-profit entities are eligible to apply.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Shares in nursing home companies plunge in the wake of Ontario care scandal

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CALGARY — Shares in a company at the centre of a nursing home scandal in Ontario are falling to new depths on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Shares in Sienna Senior Living Inc. plunged by as much as 8.3 per cent on Thursday to $9.68, a near 10-year low that’s almost 50 per cent less than their $19.64 close on Feb. 18.

The company is the operator of the Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Ont., named in a Canadian Armed Forces report this week for inadequate care and feeding of residents due to insufficient staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is blamed for 52 deaths there.

Sienna also operates the Camilla Care Centre in Mississauga, Ont., where at least 61 residents have died after contracting the coronavirus. The province said Wednesday it would take over operations of both Camilla and Altamont, along with three other nursing homes.

Shares in two other Canadian nursing home operators also fell Thursday, although neither has residences mentioned in the military report.

Extendicare Inc. slipped 3.3 per cent for a total drop of 35 per cent so far this year and Chartwell Retirement Residences fell 4.7 per cent for a year-to-date slide of 41.6 per cent.

In a report last week following Sienna’s first-quarter financial results, analyst Yashwant Sankpal of Laurentian Bank Securities said the pandemic’s impact on seniors’ care facilities has created plenty of investor anxiety over the sector’s future profitability.

But the crisis could also lead to more public investment in the sector to allow needed upgrades to the facilities that need it most, he pointed out.

“We believe that given the demographic trends, we as a society would have to come to terms with this situation and look for better solutions than just putting the whole blame on the operators,” the analyst said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SIA, TSX:EXE, TSX:CSH.UN)

 

The Canadian Press

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may, 2020

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