Canada’s oil producers could only sit and watch as the price of their product plummeted last month to less than what it costs to buy a litre of soda, hit by the double whammy of a COVID-19-induced drop in global demand and a production war between Russia and Saudi Arabia that flooded the market with more oil it didn’t need.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday his government is looking for a way to help. But it is also clear any aid package is being influenced by the push-pull the Liberals have long felt between one of Canada’s most influential economic sectors and an environment movement which sees this as Canada’s opportunity to move away from fossil fuels once and for all.
Trudeau’s promise came nine days after Finance Minister Bill Morneau said an aid package for the oil sector was “hours, potentially days” away. Morneau’s office would not say Friday how many hours Morneau actually meant.
Keith Stewart, an energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, said a delay in the package is a good thing, because it would be a lot easier and faster to pump out a bailout of loans and aid to companies than it would be to find innovative ways to fund workers through a transition to greener pastures.
Greenpeace is among a number of national environment organizations demanding no cash be spent to help oil companies.
“Doing it right is more complicated than doing it fast,” he said.
He is hopeful any direct aid to companies will be tied to their willingness to show business plans in line with Canada’s climate targets. Anything else should help workers who need to know they can pay their mortgages and put food on the table while they retrain for new jobs in clean energy or environmental remediation.
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An investment to clean up Alberta’s orphan wells was promised by Morneau on March 18, and was expected in the federal budget which has now been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said it is “frustrating” that Ottawa reached out to talk as soon as the demand drop and the Russia-Saudi Arabia spat began to hurt. But right now it’s all still just talk.
“I think it is unparalleled in history to see demand drop like this,” he said.
“The urgency is apparent. We’re seeing the damage being done to our economy.”
McMillan said regardless of global markets, there is no doubt oil and gas is an essential service, producing petroleum-based chemicals used in plastics for health care equipment and natural gas that is keeping the heat on and keeping electricity plants pumping out power.
Global oil demand fell by one-third in March, as worldwide air travel all but stopped, manufacturing plants went on hiatus and workers around the globe heeded requests — and often orders — to stay at home. At the same time Russia and Saudi Arabia could not agree on cuts to oil production, flooding markets with oil and further depressing prices.
In Western Canada, prices fell below US$4 a barrel at one point last week.
The International Energy Agency predicted Friday the oil market collapse could cost 50 million jobs internationally. In Canada, companies are already laying off workers and cutting production because there is no profit to be made pumping out a barrel of oil that costs less than an expensive coffee.
Prices jumped a bit Friday, with news that an online meeting of oil producing countries is set for Monday in a bid to overcome the production war. It does not appear that Canada will be part of that meeting. Trudeau was asked directly Friday if Canada would be participating and dodged the question.
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Conservative energy critic Shannon Stubbs said she too wants to see the investments focus on people, but in a way that bridges them and their companies to get back to producing oil. Stubbs said every day constituents in her Alberta riding are calling terrified for their future. Jobs are disappearing and the spinoff impact across her riding’s economy is profound.
She is worried that the delay is caused by a disagreement similar to the one around the Liberal cabinet table earlier this year about whether to approve a massive new oilsands mine in Alberta. The Frontier mine was ultimately shelved by the company before a decision was made, but there were open disagreements among Liberals about whether to approve it.
Trudeau would not tip his hand on any timing or content of the aid package in the works, though he said it was part of the conversation he had with premiers Thursday during a first ministers’ teleconference call. Trudeau said some of the already announced COVID-19 aid is open to oil companies and workers too.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Canada’s economy creates almost 1 million jobs in June – Canada Immigration News
Lifting coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions around the country has sparked the beginning of Canada’s economic recovery.
Many Canadians and permanent residents returned to work for their previous employers while others started new jobs.
Between February and April, a total of 3 million people lost their jobs due to the lockdown, and another 2.5 million were absent from work due to coronavirus-related reasons, according to a Statistics Canada report published on Friday.
May saw a slow start of economic recovery as 290,000 people returned to work. Building on this, the month of June helped alleviate low unemployment rates across the country as employment increased by a record 953,000 people.
These last two months saw the labour market recover by a staggering 40%. Over 1.24 million people gained employment, after 3 million people lost their jobs earlier in the year.
Canada’s overall unemployment rate dropped from 13.7% in May to 12.3% in June.
In addition, the report says that labour force participation rate has increased substantially over the last two months up to 63.8% in June. In comparison, it was 65.5% in February, before coronavirus-related restrictions.
The labour force participation rate is the percentage of the population, aged 15 or older, who are part of the labour force.
This suggests that many people are now more optimistic about the potential of finding a job. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)’s requirement to actively search for work may be another factor. The CESB was introduced to alleviate financial struggles of students who may have been affected by the coronavirus-related restrictions
Moreover, the number of people who work less than half of their usual hours also decreased in June to 26.9% down from 34.3%.
The rise of employment across all provinces is largely aligned with the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Employment in Ontario increased by 378,000 (or 5.9%), Quebec by 248,000 (or 6.5%) and British Columbia by 118,000 (or 5.4%).
As Canada begins reopening its economy, many Canadians and permanent residents have returned to work or have begun looking for work.
In addition, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has returned to normal in terms of Express Entry draws. The latest draw held was an all-program draw. This means that candidates for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) were also considered.
Since the travel restrictions were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, IRCC had been holding program-specific draws, alternating between Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draws.
Canada’s latest job statistics is good news for these immigrants since they can expect a stronger job market once they have obtained permanent residence.
© 2020 CIC News All Rights Reserved
COVID-19: Alberta reports 77 new cases on Friday, death count falls by 1 – CTV News
Alberta reported 77 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total number of cases to 8,596.
There are 592 active cases across the province and 7,844 people have recovered from the coronavirus.
The province’s death count fell by one on Friday, from 161 to 160. The number of COVID-19-related deaths fell from 18 to 17.
“One of the deaths reported at the Misericordia has been determined to not have COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death,” a spokesman for the province told CTV News.
The city of Edmonton has now surpassed 1,000 total cases, with 1,001. Its number of active cases sits at 173.
More than 510,000 COVID-19 tests have now been completed in Alberta.
Edmonton, Calgary top Canadian cities in unemployment – CTV News Edmonton
Alberta has the second-worst provincial unemployment rate in Canada after Newfoundland and Labrador..
According to new Statistics Canada data, unemployment reached 15.5 per cent in June.
It marks an 8.8 per cent difference from the same time last year.
The only province with a higher unemployment rate is Newfoundland and Labrador, at 16.5 per cent.
And unemployment in Alberta’s largest cities is also highest among Canadian major urban centres: about 15.7 per cent of the Edmonton workforce is currently unemployed, and 15.6 per cent of the Calgary workforce.
In May, their unemployment rates were 13.6 per cent and 13.4 per cent, respectively.
The news comes alongside a report that Canada added 953,000 jobs in June as businesses forced to close by the pandemic began to reopen.
“That’s important progress but we have a long way to go,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney commented Friday at a news conference in Fort Saskatchewan, where a carbon capture and storage facility recently reached the five-million equivalent tonnes milestone.
Kenney’s government’s economic recovery plan centres on infrastructure projects that create jobs and making Alberta an attractive place for investment – as does the facility at the Shell Scotford complex, Kenney said.
“Projects like this are a key part of Alberta’s recovery plan to build, to diversify, and to create jobs. When the global economy comes back form COVID, when demand returns for oil and gas, we are going to see, I believe, something of a supply shortage because of all the upstream exploration that has been cancelled, and so we’ll see prices go up. And that will be a great opportunity for Alberta, especially as we make progress on pipelines,” he said.
“But there’s one critical factor, we’ve got to bring investment back. And that means we’ve got to demonstrate our progress on environmental responsibility which is why investments like this… are so important to jobs, the economy, and the future prosperity of Alberta.”
The national unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.
With files from CTVNews.ca
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