The recent rise in oil prices and the accelerating political dance to approve a pipeline by imposing a hefty national carbon price are fueling some optimism in the Canadian oil scene – but not for the estimated 100,000 oil workers out of a job, the majority highly educated professionals based in Calgary.
Many have been unemployed for up to two years and have used up severance packages, unemployment insurance (if they got it at all), savings. Their predicament is reflected in Calgary’s alarming unemployment rate – Statistics Canada said Friday it climbed to 9.5 per cent in September, the highest of all major cities in the country, up from 9 per cent in August.
Unemployed oil workers are increasingly worried there is no relief for them, that they have become permanent collateral damage. The oil community that fired them when oil prices tanked isn’t expected to start re-hiring until investment recovers and there is greater certainty about carbon policies. So, we’re talking years.
Even then job creation is expected to be cautious and tight. The NDP provincial government in Alberta and the federal Liberal government Ottawa are more interested in accelerating the transition to green energy than supporting workers in oil and gas.
To bring attention to their predicament, a couple of hundred oil Professionals in Transition met for the first time in Calgary last week to speak candidly about their experiences, raise awareness, find a common voice.
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