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Joblessness Seen Tripling to 25% or More in Canada Oil Heartland

Steam rises from a Syncrude Canada Ltd. facility in the Athabasca oil sands north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on Friday, June 14, 2019. Once the booming heart of the country's energy industry, the little city of 75,000 in northeastern Alberta has become a showcase for the debt troubles many Canadians are facing. Photographer: Amber Bracken/Bloomberg

BLOOMBERG, APRIL 7, 2020

Alberta premier says 500,000 could be put out of work | Most challenging time since the Great Depression, Kenney says

By Kevin Orland for Bloomberg – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the crisis rocking the global oil industry could cause at least 25% unemployment in his province.

The dual shocks of the Saudi-Russian oil price war and reduced demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic could put 500,000 Albertans out of work, Kenney said Tuesday during an online presentation. Alberta has a labor force of about 2.5 million people; its unemployment rate was 7.2% in February.

READ: With oil at under $8 a bbl, Canada is the first price-war casualty

”This will be the most challenging period in our economy in relative terms since the Great Depression,” Kenney said

To get people back to work, the federal government needs to introduce measures to speed up the reclamation of abandoned wells and provide at least C$20 billion ($14.3 billion) in liquidity to help energy producers, Kenney said. Discussions around an orphan well program are “quite advanced” and could be released before the liquidity measures, Kenney said.

“This country cannot allow our largest industry subsector to fail or to be impaired,” Kenney said at the Scotiabank Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Energy Symposium.

Kenney said he’s also working with the federal government on a “do no harm list” that is focused on deferring or retooling regulations that could increase costs for the energy industry.

A spokesperson for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said talks on an aid package for the industry are ongoing.

— With assistance by Kait Bolongaro

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