The death of the Alberta dream

Large-scale layoffs, empty office towers, falling house prices: Alberta has been gutted by the glut.



Late last year, Brandon MacKay listed his Kawasaki dirt bike for sale on Kijiji, the online classifieds site. It was the only treat the 25-year-old had given himself in three years living in Fort McMurray. The rest he’d spent on supporting and visiting his wife and kids in Pictou County, N.S. But in crafting the ad for the bike—$4,400 or best offer—MacKay did what any sales agent would advise against: he revealed his desperation to sell. “I lost my job and am in need of money for my wife and kids for Christmas.”

MacKay had followed a well-worn path to prosperity for East Coasters: with limited job prospects at home, the engineering technologist flew to Alberta’s oil sands capital and found a job in mechanical sales. It was good money. He bought a 30-acre plot and 2,000-sq.-foot house for his family back east. One day, while he was setting up for a client visit, his branch manager summoned MacKay for what he thought would be a meeting about sales projections for 2016. “Before I could even sit down,” MacKay recalls, “he told me it was my last day.”

Now MacKay is faced with a reality that would have been inconceivable a year ago: he might have to leave Alberta to find a job.

MacKay’s ordeal is just one example of the upheaval many Albertans, new and old, have suffered since oil prices began their long, hard crash. It’s affected everyone from steel-toed rig hands to French-cuffed executives, with layoffs hitting Calgary and Fort Mac, not to mention the many small towns across Alberta that rely heavily on the energy sector.

As this downturn has unfolded, the great oil rout of 2014-15 seemed, at least at first, to be following a similar pattern to other busts. Some big oil sands projects get delayed, rig and well activity shrivels and Employment Insurance rolls spike, leading to knock-on effects: Calgary towers thin out, the real estate market softens, and cuts spread to everything from shops to restaurants. Yet past plunges were reliably followed by a bungee-like snap back in growth, as oil prices regained their upward momentum. It’s a pattern a generation of Albertans has come to expect, after the 1998 Asian financial crisis, the 9/11 terrorism shock and the 2008 financial crisis.

But the broad optimism of early 2015 has gradually given way to dread. This feels more like the awful 1980s, with no swift recovery to come—not in a world glutted by oil, as Saudi Arabia battles to squeeze out higher-cost producers like Russia and the United States. Before Christmas 2014, as prices thudded from above US$100 per barrel to below US$60 for the first time since the Great Recession, oilpatch observers wondered how soon US$80 oil would return. Instead, the OPEC cartel’s decision to keep pumping, and the surprising resilience of U.S. producers, have pushed oil down to below US$40.

Energy companies are preparing for a grim 2016. Analysts predict budgets will get slashed further, and that more energy firms may have to cut staff, having already laid off thousands. Ongoing oil sands construction projects will continue to wind down with little to replace them, hitting both the residential and commercial real estate sectors hard. For instance, in nearly one-sixth of all the office space in downtown Calgary, the fluorescent lights now shine on empty cubicles, and it’s forecast to get worse. Reports of the symptoms pop up almost daily: more insolvencies, more business for moving trucks and repo crews, even a noticeable uptick in suicides. The Calgary Stampede itself has been forced to lay off staff, as its offseason event bookings dried up. In November, the Alberta unemployment rate came within one-tenth of a percentage point of the national average, the closest it’s been since 1989. Those trend lines are expected to cross over next year, making it more clear to Canadian job-seekers that the Alberta dream is in decline.

Brandon MacKay works on this motorbike in his trailer turned into a make shift garage, in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015. Brandon MacKay was recently laid off from his job. (Photograph by Jason Franson)

Brandon MacKay works on this motorbike in his trailer turned into a make shift garage, in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015. Brandon MacKay was recently laid off from his job. (Photograph by Jason Franson)

The rest of the country isn’t immune from those ominous grinding sounds coming from Canada’s longtime economic engine. Canadian GDP dipped into recession territory in the first half of 2015 on the oil shock, and though the country managed a rebound in the third quarter, Alberta’s troubles—as well as slumps in other oil-rich provinces like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland—have left a gaping wound. The energy sector had long driven Canada’s trade surplus, papering over weakness elsewhere while soaking up large numbers of unemployed and underemployed people from regions like the Maritimes and hard-hit southwestern Ontario. Many economists predict a gradual rebound, but nothing head and shoulders above national growth rates, as had been typical for Alberta. “Average growth” is an unfamiliar term in Alberta, and will take some getting used to.

But even average growth seems a ways off, as troubles keep filtering through the province. In Alberta’s southeast, Medicine Hat drew international acclaim in the spring of 2015 after it became the first city in Canada to eliminate homelessness, having pursued an ambitious five-year agenda to put people into subsidized housing within 10 days of them landing in emergency shelters. After so much progress, Medicine Hat’s Salvation Army shelter is back to averaging 17 clients a night, up about one-third since 2014—too many to promptly find them all affordable housing. Local demand for donated clothing and household items also rose by more than a quarter over the last year, says manager Murray Jaster. But donations slumped too, and he had to reduce staff. When he’s out along the Trans-Canada Highway that dissects Medicine Hat, Jaster has noticed more hitchhikers than he’s seen in years—people looking to take the long road home, or perhaps to wherever in Canada the jobs may be. “Man, we’re a have-not province all of a sudden,” Jaster says. “Who can believe it? I can’t.”

To be sure, the oil crash isn’t yet deep or dark enough to have actually lowered Alberta to the status of federal welfare case, qualifying for equalization payments. It still remains a wealthy province, with the highest average weekly income in Canada. “It’s still not that bad relative to the rest of the country,” says University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe. “I think we were just used to things being so good that we lost a little bit of perspective.”

But, to Jaster’s point, there is much his province used to have that now seems gone. Most noticeable is Alberta’s eroding status as the Promised Land for so many Canadians from other parts of the country. Over the last decade, net interprovincial migration by 18- to 44-year-olds, the key working demographic, swelled Alberta’s population by 200,000, according to a report by a rather envious Business Council of British Columbia. (That province netted fewer than 40,000 over that stretch, while all other provinces were net losers.) The momentum has shifted. While 1,200 more Canadians still moved to the province than left it during the third quarter of 2015, that was the smallest gain since 2010—when the province was recovering from the 2009 oil price collapse—and less than half the average of the last 50 years.

A semi truck is seen in the rearview mirror with Syncrude plant behind it in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015.  (Photograph by Jason Frason)

A semi truck is seen in the rearview mirror with Syncrude plant behind it in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015. (Photograph by Jason Frason)

Chris Hickey was a Newfoundland import 14 years ago, and welding had been good to him. Last spring his bosses at the fabrication company where he worked held a picnic. They acknowledged the business was showing signs of slowing, but said they didn’t foresee having to make changes. The next day Hickey was laid off, along with one-third of the day shift.

Where is his next hope for employment? Hickey doesn’t know. When New Brunswick-based Irving Shipbuilding held a job fair in Fort McMurray to lure workers back to a government project at its Halifax shipyards, Hickey applied, but never heard back. “I probably sent out a good 1,000 resumés since, from Newfoundland to B.C. and all the way down to Texas and all over the world,” Hickey says. “I’m pretty much going to take anything I can get.”

Hickey is all too aware his Employment Insurance runs out in April, which meant a lean Christmas and heightened anxiety for his girlfriend and him in 2016. With the province’s EI rolls double what they were a year ago, and legions getting by on severance packages, many unemployed Albertans will hit that wall this year. All told, as a result of job losses and pay cuts, the energy sector now puts $100 million less into Albertans’ pockets every week compared to before the oil crash, according to job and wage numbers crunched by Todd Hirsch, chief economist for ATB Financial. For out-of-province energy workers, that also means less money being sent back to families at home. As more of them return to their provinces of origin, that could contribute to higher unemployment rates and strains on social services there. “Seeing that there’s no real light at the end of the tunnel right now, more [companies] are turning to job cuts,” says Wendy Giuffre, the president of Wendy Ellen, a human resources consultancy. “It seems that there’s another wave right now. I think people were kind of hopeful things were going to pick up sooner, but it’s not looking too promising.”

Statistics Canada’s payroll survey shows Alberta shed 63,500 jobs over the year leading up to October. That doesn’t account for lost potential—the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimates 40,000 jobs that were expected to be created never materialized.

Oil patch companies were already scaling back spending plans before oil’s most recent tumble in December. Scotiabank commodity specialist Patricia Mohr, who adopted a “lower-for-longer” outlook several months ago, recently slashed her already gloomy forecasts by US$5 a barrel. She now warns the price for West Texas Intermediate crude could potentially drop to US$30 a barrel early in 2016, stay below US$45 a barrel for most of the year, and return to $50 by the fourth quarter. “I think even that is fairly optimistic,” she says.

Todd Korol/Reuters

Todd Korol/Reuters

OPEC’s Saudi-led decision to keep pumping crude in order to regain world market share has so far failed to substantially curb production by non-OPEC countries, notably the U.S. shale fields, Mohr says. Global demand has grown, but not nearly enough to soak up the gusher of supply. At the same time Iran is likely to ramp up oil exports following its nuclear deal with Western powers last summer. Iran could add 500,000 more barrels a day “in a market that doesn’t need the additional crude,” Mohr says.

What’s easier to predict is the impact low prices will have on Alberta’s oil sands. While some existing projects can make money at or below $40 a barrel, Mohr says others require prices of around US$55 a barrel to be viable. Most expansions that had already begun have gone ahead, but to protect their balance sheets companies have shelved billions of dollars worth of new projects. “New commitments on brand-new projects will probably wait for a better day,” she says. The supply-demand imbalance should shrink and send prices up by 2017, Mohr says, though she expects a “fairly modest” increase.

It’s no secret that Alberta’s economy is closely linked to the peaks and craters of oil prices—nominal GDP (not adjusted for inflation) swings in tandem with crude prices. It’s why Fort McMurray is like a wounded beast these days. MacKay’s neighbour got laid off this fall. “I watched the bank come and take his truck,” he recalls—it was that or not feed the kids. Home prices in November were 20 per cent below last year’s average, with even townhouses and duplexes losing $100,000 in value. According to reports, a number of people who used to regularly donate to the city’s food bank have become clients.

At a recent oil-well drillers conference, industry veteran Brian Krausert set the tone for his annual industry forecast with a bad joke: the best news today, he told his audience, would be that the caterers didn’t run out of scrambled eggs. The crowd’s silence continued as Krausert bombarded them with grim stats: the group had twice slashed last year’s forecast, and the outlook for 2016 is even lower—57 per cent fewer operating days for oil rigs than in 2014, based on oil prices averaging US$45 per barrel. Rig utilization levels will be the lowest since Krausert started tracking them in 1977. “It’s like I told them ‘You’re going to go get your head lopped off,’ ” Krausert, CEO of Beaver Drilling, recalls.

(Chris Bolin)

(Chris Bolin)

What happens in the oil fields directly affects one of Canada’s largest business cores. Elevator trips to Beaver’s small ninth-floor Calgary office have gotten lonelier. Nearly one-third of the office space in the 32-storey highrise is listed for lease or sublease. The asking rate to rent downtown Calgary’s “Class A” office space is down nearly 42 per cent from last year, the result of “a complete lack of demand,” according to a report by real estate advisers Jones Lang Lasalle. The market is awash in subleases, as companies compete with landlords for the few interested tenants. “Initially it was mid-sized to large companies shedding excess space—space set aside for their future expansion,” says Mike Gigliuk, a vice-president at commercial real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank Devencore. “The next wave was companies of all sizes downsizing staff and trying to shed the newly vacant space.”

CBRE, another real estate firm, estimates a 16.3 per cent commercial vacancy rate, the highest in nearly a quarter-century. It forecasts 18 per cent next year. Already, the vacant square footage in Calgary’s core is double that of all the office space in Saskatoon.

The hollowing out of Calgary offices has decimated the corporate lunch crowd. Regulars who would come to Jalapeno’s Mexican Grill three times a week now visit once, or not at all, owner Doug Hernandez says. “We’re not making any money; we’re just floating right now,” he says. “The problem would be when I’m not wearing my lifejacket anymore. Then I’d drown.” Some Calgary businesses have cheekily played up the downturn: the Barcelona Tavern offers 20 per cent off wine bottles until oil returns to $70, while the Ironwood Stage hosted a “Rocking the Recession” show. The cover charge: $20 “if you’re hangin’ in there” or free “if you’re really hurtin’.”

Some Albertans are already feeling the hurt in the housing market. Real estate sales in Calgary have slowed for 13 straight months, especially among million-dollar homes, and in recent months prices began to fall. The year-over-year benchmark price in November had dropped two per cent. Open houses have been full, but sellers long for last year’s higher prices while buyers want next year’s price plunge today, real estate agent Donna Rooney says. Still, she and partner Gary Cronin believe the housing downturn isn’t yet as bad as previous ones. “There’s not as much distress selling as there has been in previous cycles, partially because of the interest rates, partially because our city has become more affluent and people have more savings than in previous cycles,” Cronin says.

Trucks line the roads in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015. (Photograph by Jason Frason)

Trucks line the roads in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015. (Photograph by Jason Frason)

Cheap and easy credit is helping minimize the bleeding for Alberta’s car and truck dealerships. Despite a 20 per cent sales drop at Ed Tercier’s GM dealership in a northeast Alberta town, he says: “We’re still profitable and hope it continues. It isn’t like 1981 where they put up a sign: ‘Can the last one in Bonnyville turn the lights out?’ ” Those dark years of the 1980s came with double-digit interest rates. In contrast, Calgary commuter trains recently boasted ads from upstart lender Cowboy Auto Credit, offering guaranteed loan approval: “Yippee car yay!”

And borrow Albertans have. The average personal debt load (excluding mortgages) sat at $27,490 in September, nearly $4,000 higher than the next-highest province, Saskatchewan, according to Equifax. While more Canadians are paying their bills on time than they have in years, the three-month delinquency rate in Alberta shot up by 13.4 per cent in a year, the credit-monitoring firm reported.

Newly tightened federal mortgage rules designed to cool down markets in Vancouver and Toronto will hit highly leveraged Calgary’s home-buyers harder than in any other major city, a CIBC economist recently wrote. The longer the slump lasts, the more the pain will spread, too. In November, Evan Siddall, the chief executive of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., revealed the results of a stress test his federal agency had run: If oil prices stay at $35 a barrel for five years, the national unemployment rate might reach 12.2 per cent and national house prices could collapse by 26 per cent. That was a worst-case scenario, but regardless: CMHC considers the price of oil to be “the most significant domestic risk” to growth in Canada.

The realization is setting in that this downturn could last much longer than first thought. But as Albertans grapple with low oil, another factor dominates the provincial psyche. “The uncertainty is a bit stronger than in the past, of when the turnaround will come,” says Giuffre, the HR consultant. “It’s not pure economics. There’s a lot of politics involved.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley pictured in her office in Edmonton Alberta, September 15, 2015. (Photograph by Jason Franson)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley pictured in her office in Edmonton Alberta, September 15, 2015. (Photograph by Jason Franson)

Politics and oil crashes are a potent mix in Alberta. As in the 1980s when that other Trudeau launched the detested National Energy Program, many are watching this Trudeau’s climate initiatives with suspicion. Yet even Fortress Alberta has suffered breaches, with last spring’s surprise election of Rachel Notley’s NDP. It’s a poorly kept secret that Jim Prentice, the 43-year Tory dynasty’s final premier, called May’s election one year early because he feared the economy would continue to worsen. As scorn and blame rain down on Notley for private sector layoffs, she has continually stressed that her government does not control global oil prices. But critics have also targeted her government for decisions it did control: hiking corporate taxes, ordering a review of energy royalties, and unveiling a massive climate change plan that will shutter coal mines and power plants and impose an economy-wide carbon tax. “There are clear signals from the government they’re going to continue destabilizing the investment sector here,” says Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose opposition.

Obviously that’s not how the provincial NDP sees it. Last fall, Notley named a trusted lieutenant as her new economic development and trade minister to lead recovery efforts. “We do not want to make it worse. We want to work with industry to help support it,” says Deron Bilous. The province has sped up infrastructure spending, budgeted for a modest job creation subsidy, directed more Crown corporation investment and lending to Alberta businesses, and hopes that creating a greener power grid will boost jobs. But Bilous says there are no easy fixes as he meets with industry to better grasp the issue, including a November sit-down with the Petroleum Services Association of Canada. “Everyone was thrilled we were listening,” Bilous says. “We’re taking notes. We’re working with them and want to find solutions.”

Janine Snortland, who attended the meeting, wasn’t thrilled. Her oil field hauling firm east of Calgary employed 22 before the crash, and was down to eight in November. “We can do anything and everything with our trucks, but our specialty is rig moving, and there are no rigs to move.” At the meeting, she expressed doubt that Bilous could promote her sector when the NDP was often “the first one to throw Alberta oil and gas under the bus.” At least he was receptive, Snortland recalls. “He was a nice enough man, but you know what? I’m frustrated.” She’s inclined to return to more conservative Saskatchewan, which she first left two decades ago.

Brandon MacKay, pictured in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015. Brandon MacKay was recently laid off from his job. Jason Franson for Maclean's Magazine.

Brandon MacKay, pictured in Fort McMurray Alberta, November 14, 2015. Brandon MacKay was recently laid off from his job. Jason Franson for Maclean’s Magazine.

As bad as last year was for Alberta, things will likely get worse before they get better, says Hirsch, the ATB economist. He expects lower retail spending, continued layoffs and declining consumer confidence, all of which will be a drag on the economy. “This recession, compared to ’09, is sort of like being hit with a blunt object. It’s not as painful, but it’s going to linger longer,” he says. Bonuses and salaries “unhinged from reality” will float earthward. “All of this has to unravel. It’s painful, and I don’t want to make it sound like this is good, but in a way it’s healthy—like a high fever and you’ve got the flu.”

The question remains for the rest of Canada: how contagious is that flu? While governments and energy groups long touted the pan-Canadian benefits of the oil sands, most manufacturing and services companies directly serving the sector are concentrated in Alberta. There are exceptions. For instance, Tenaris Algoma Tubes, one of the largest employers in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., has had four rounds of temporary layoffs since the oil crash bruised demand for its steel products out west. But aided by the lower loonie, those in the manufacturing sector are optimistic the pain will be contained. “It’s a weight on Ontario. It’s not sinking the ship,” says Mike Holden, economist for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters trade group. Even so, the sector is struggling. One gauge of manufacturing health, the RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, fell to its lowest level in five years in December. According to the report, firms said subdued business confidence was leading them to scale back on spending and put off new projects. Given the widespread uncertainty about the future of oil prices, and its effect on the broader Canadian economy, this fear of the unknown has the potential to do more damage than any direct links between Alberta’s oil patch and the rest of the country.

Alberta’s options are limited. The NDP’s talk of diversifying the economy is easier said than done. Consider two sectors that enjoyed a strong 2015: agriculture and tourism. Combined they account for just 3.5 per cent of Alberta’s GDP. Oil and gas makes up 25 per cent, with far higher wages. Even the NDP’s Bilous admits “diversification is probably more of a medium to long play.”

Which leaves a province of four million people with little to do but wait for a recovery of crude prices to rescue its employment prospects, government coffers, real estate markets and so much else. For shell-shocked Albertans, hope has become a commodity in short supply, and they’ll hang on to whatever they can get.
—with Chris Sorensen


The death of the Alberta dream

  1. This is a preview of what is going to happen to Canada within the next year under the current Liberal Government. Whatcha gonna do PM Buttercup.

    • Given that they put all their eggs in the oil basket, I suppose you think your beloved Harper Cons would know better?

      • Badly informed comment. The so called “oil basket” is not a big % of Canada’s GDP. Please get informed.

      • It is not an egss in one basket policy, but a lets take advantage of something we have while the demand is high. Just like the rest of the world does. e.g. Saudi, Russia you name it.

        • Poor political policies have definitely made factors worse. Some nations governments were smart and taxed and saved some of their oil money through their versions of Alberta’s heritage fund. Our government instead found a way to create billions in deficits and national debt.

          • 40 years of conservative governments buried Alberta’s oil patch, and the Harper government, when in power, put the headstone on it.

          • Wow there Carpet Bomber You don’t have a clue. We have never been in this much debt. Close after the last Trudeau. The NDP have totally taken us down by losing investors. Alberta used to sit in the top 10 for investors now Saskatchewan does and Alberta is 38th. Trudeau and Notley have buried Alberta and now lets add a useless carbon tax. I will be burning more wood this winter rather than natural gas. Which I find amusing she is building the very thing she is taxing us for is a gas plant to replace the two new very efficient coal energy plants that has equal or less emissions. Wynne has taken Ontario down to 300 billion dollar debt with her green energy plan. Extreme environmental tax and emission control providing our competitive advantage to someone else.

    • Given the successive Conservative governments we’ve had, Federal and Provincial, one would have thought these economic geniuses would have better prepared Alberta to withstand these crashes. After all, it’s not like it is the first time oil tanked.

      • Well, you have years of Conservatives catering to the oil industry at the expense of the province. How do you start fixing the problem? By increasing taxes on the big oil corporations. How many are American owned? How many move their wealth out of Canada?

        • tax and spend.
          i suppose your dream is 95% top tax rate like britain had in 1964 when george harrison wrote heres 19 for you 1 for me.
          or teachers at the cbe working for 10 yrs who make 92 k a year
          and retire about 51 or so on 60 k taxpayer funded pension. nurses here make 3 dollar hr more than in bc. teachers 20k more

    • How would you deal with a changing economy? You have no idea, do you?

    • Wow blaming the new government for the short sited planning of the previous one shows how ignorant you really are. Blaming the Liberals for the mistakes of the Cons and Blaming the NDP for the mistakes of the PC is nothing short of idiocy…

      • Oh so your saying its okay to blame the old governmen. Like Ontario does when they blame Mike Harris for everything when he has not been in power for some 13 years. The Alberta prvovincial government is now adding a new oil tax to an already hurting oil industry, does that make sense to you? At this time? Driving up the cost of everything is somehow going to help?

        • Putting the responsibility more on a government that was in power for 43 years over one that’s been in office for 1 year, putting responsibility more on a government that was in power for 10 years than one in office for ten weeks seems far fetched to you?

          • Considering Alberta has never been in this much trouble since Pierre Trudeau and we have had a downturn in oil every 8 years. Yes we can blame this government. Saskatchewan for the first time in Alberta history is in the top 10 for investing but Alberta NDP have put us in 38th place with the investing barriers. Big Time.

    • Are you the same “suck it up buttercup” from Mississauga Ive been reading all these years? I admire the loyalty to your beloved CONservatives. But lets wait at least 10 years before throwing out the junior Trudeau

    • how much money did ab tax payers bailout lets see
      a) gm and chrysler
      b) bombardier
      c) quebec so people making 200 k a year could get 10 dollar daycare
      d) ontario. 850 dollars of interest payments per person on their debt
      e) maritimes. nova scotia gets 40% of its revenue from equalization

      • How much? Much less than the people of Ontario.

        • Are you bragging about Ontario. They are now a have not province with a 300 billion dollar debt. Even with our money sent we were not that much in debt. So I wouldn’t brag about Ontario.

          • Of course we are on the same course thanks to the great Climate Plan that has destroyed Ontario and will destroy Alberta. But then we are just pigs and idiots right.

  2. What has happened in Alberta, is going to be a prime wake-up call to folks who don’t pay attention come election time. Who you vote for….matters; whether you like the party or not.

    If you vote for a government control freak like Notley and her NDP..that is what they will do. If you are in Alberta, and you voted NDP….and you lost your job.


    reap meet sow.

    For those of you who didn’t vote NDP…you have my sympathies.

    If anyone votes NDP in the next election, you can be sure that these are the folks who RECEIVE from big governemtn, and not provide anything in return. Everyone with their handout….is an NDP’er.

    • You read that whole article and concluded that Notley is responsible for Alberta’s sudden collapse?

      Dude, you’re smarter than that.

      • No, he isn’t smarter than that! He obviously voted Conservative and kept those losers in power far past their expiry date. Both Conservative parties (Federal and Provincial) are responsible for this.

      • No, TJ, she is not responsible for the collapse in oil prices; but she is responsible for taking a bad situation and making it worse.

        People who voted for her will soon understand what they have done once they exchange a paycheque, for a welfare cheque; granted, those already on welfare won’t notice much of a difference.

        • What a surprise. James is just spouting stuff without anything to back it up.

          Blaming the NDP for the current state of the Alberta economy is like blaming Harper for the rise of ISIS.

          • and wait til the canadian housing bubble bursts
            housing is 25% or more. when all these people who bought sky high houses are under water and screaming for help.
            and the bank shows up and changes the locks.

        • Welfare has very little effect on it. Stop throwing up red herrings.

    • Seriously. You read that article and concluded that Notley is responsible for Alberta’s economic crisis?

      You should read it again. Watch for the stuff about the collapse in global oil prices. It’s significant for a high-cost oil industry that boomed in the days of $100/bbl oil. Maybe even more significant than a few months under a new government.

      • Let me help you TJ. You read a little article and conclude it is not Notley. Oil has been down at least every 8 years including in the recession of 2008. We have survived by continuing not to put up barriers for investors and for the first time we are not in the top 10 but 38th. Funny how Saskatchewan now pumps oil and so does Texas and they are in the top 10. Not continuing to rapidly spend including adding 50,000 civil servants, taxing higher the very people that provide the jobs. Carbon levies have doubled. Trudeau is also to blame. Billions have been taken from this country with the ridiculous levies both governments impose.

    • You don’t know what you’re talking about. It was going downhill long before the NDP.

      • the ndp have hired anti pipeline radicals are 200 k salaries
        3% sales tax oops carbon tax. notley said nothing about this in her election.,

    • The NDP sure wasted all those taxpayer money’s on airplanes and perks, renovations at McDougall centre and all those other things the government did in the last 43 years. Oh wait that was the PC party

      • why doesnt notley make the aupe workers pension move from defined benefit to defined contribution like the ndp did in sask.
        make them retire at 65 instead of 50 on 50 k pensions.

      • You are correct there has been some waste in the last two governments as they also were NDP spenders but none of them have driven our economy down or put up so many barriers to investors. NDP used to be name the socialist party and previous to that was the communist party. They like government which they have added 50,000 including many activists again oil.

  3. This downturn in Alberta is unlike any previous ones. This is the first time that you have the provincial government actively trying to make things worse by persecuting the largest industry in the province. The Energy Ministers suggestion for Alberta workers was to move to BC until things get better.

    • The Tories’ lax environmental policies over four decades gave Alberta a bad reputation and made it harder to sell oil abroad. You are now paying the price. On top of that, the oil companies are trying to bully the government by slowing down production and stalling when they haven’t suffered any big losses yet. The NDP is not the cause of Alberta’s problems by a long shot.

      • Rachel Notley and a group she gathered reviewed the environmental policies and agencies in effect in Alberta under the Tories and she decided they actually were doing a good job. There has been a lot of misinformation. A duck dies in an oilsands tailing pond and it heard around the world. Thousands of ducks fly into office towers in Toronto and die and no one hears about and no cares. The US has an oilsands and no one cares. The dirtiest oil in the world is about 50 miles from where Leonardio DiCaprio was born but no one hears that. What Alberta has is a public relations problem. It is an easy target because it has a small population and everything in carbon emissions is measured per capita.

      • John,

        Clearly, you haven’t a clue about the situation. The oil companies are not slowing down production in order to bully the government. they have simply stopped most production because it isn’t profitable to spend $35 per barrel to extract, when the market is about $32 per barrel. If you don’t make any money doing it…then you simply don’t do it.

        the oil glut we have now is due to OPEC countries (mainly Saudi Arabia) flooding the market with cheap oil in order to hurt their competitors. It is working to an extent, but the Saudi’s are now seeing deficits, so I don’t expect it to last too much longer; maybe a year or two more. As well, if Iran and saudi arabia start whacking each others’ oilfields…..better for us.

        As for the NDP and Alberta……yes John, the NDP is taking a bad situation, and making it much worse. The only redeeming quality however, is that after the people of Alberta (and Canada) see what kind of damage the NDP can do to an economy, the chances of them ever holding power again are greatly diminished. Socialist policies only help the folks in society who don’t really make any significant contributions.

        • the price for Alberta Select is actually under $20 US/bbl

          • Tresus,

            It is clear from your selection of graphs that you don’t understand what you yourself have provided as a reference. I’ll give you some clues, and maybe you can understand your own post one day.


            1st, something you should have noted (but clearly didn’t) about your graph. It was for the years 2005 to 2016. therefore most of what you posted was for past production; though it doesn’t really matter. I’ll tell you why.

            2nd. Alberta consumed less oil than it produced, because believe it or not, what was not consumed, was sold to the United States. That is how Alberta managed to make billions of dollars, including the money they sent to Quebec and Ontario.

            3rd. Production has decreased, but not because there is no more oil. It decreased because the oil is worth more in the future, than it is right now. When the price goes back up…production will increase. Consumption has remained fairly steady, because people still need to drive their cars and heat their homes, etc.

            4th: The graph clearly shows that the last actual data used was for the spring of 2015. the word “FORECAST” on the hatch line for the year 2016 should have been your first clue that the numbers for this period were an estimate.

            So Tresus, if you are trying to be “clever” in the future, you may want to restrict yourself to subjects you actually understand, as opposed to copying the first graph you manage to find on google.

            i’m just trying to stop you from making a fool of yourself again. I know it’s hard, but trust me….it will be worth it. Just try harder.

          • Sure James.
            Let’s be generous and pretend that by “most production” you meant the smallest possible definition – barely more than half.
            Sadly, that claim is still almost too idiotic to mock:

            But, you’ve got a source for that claim that contradicts every shred of available evidence, and you’re going to present it to us any minute now, aren’t you?

          • Again, I will have to help Tresus out.

            But before I do that, I do need to make a clarification. I should have written “current as well as future reductions in production” as I was under the impression that most readers would be smart enough to understand I was referrring not only to what is currently happening in Alberta, but also what we can expect to happen. (You will have to wait until next year to see I’m correct). I should have been more clear, because I failed to consider readers like Tresus.

            Now, about the second link he’s provided, something folks should know. It is basically a pamphlet produced by Notley and her NDP explaining that their revenue’s from oil have been reduced from 8.7 Billion, to just over 2 Billion, and THAT IS WHY the CARBON TAX PLANNED IS A GREAT IDEA. Yes, the link Tresus provides explains the loss of revenue due to decreased resource prices, but then uses that decrease as the justification for making it even worse.

            Typically, only the type of document the NDP could come up with; and the type of document only Tresus could use and think it’s a good reference to bolster his point.

            Care to try again Tresus?

          • Yes, James. When you wrote that ” they have simply stopped most production” you really meant that they might sometime in the future.
            Sure thing.

            I’m sorry you got distracted from the issue we’re discussing by all the other information in that report. But if you simply go to page 9 you’ll see that, just like ever other bit of published data, it show your claim that, “they have simply stopped most production” is complete BS.

          • Tresus,

            If you want to see how much of an IDIOT you really are…and realize how much more INTELLIGENT I am than are you…….

            Just wait a little while and watch what happens in Alberta. And you can look all you want….you will NEVER find a graph to show you have been, or are correct. (assuming of course, you actually find a graph you could understand)

          • Yes jameshalifax.
            If you can’t provide a shred of evidence to contradict the fact that your claim that oil companies “have simply stopped most production,” tellings us how smart you are is worth a try.

          • We don’t have to wait, Tresus,

            Anyone who’s ever read anything you have posted, and anything I have posted, are already well aware that you are sub-par in the intellect category.

            and as I said before, just wait until you see what happens in Alberta in the next year under Notley and her incompetent crew. The only hope however, is that some type of catastrophe occurs (or good news..depending on one’s viewpoint) and the oil fields in Saudi Arabia and Iran go the way of the Kuwaiti fields a while back.

      • Alberta has a hard time selling oil abroad because it’s land-locked, not because of your environmental fantasies. Perhaps if people like you pulled your head out of your ass and supported a pipeline, then things would improve…..

      • and if trump wins against a weak hillary keystone is okayed day 1

        • and bernie is leading hillary in iowa and new hampshire
          and who will vote for that socialist in america
          apart from 20 yr olds and old burn out hippies

    • The last time an Alberta government official suggested that certain Albertans move to BC was under the reign of his royal drunkedness Ralph Klein. He, of course, took it one step further and actually bought one way bus tickets to ship Alberta welfare recipients to BC. Because Ralph is so revered by the general Alberta population and because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery I can only deduce that you equate this government with that of the great Ralph Philip Klein and his merry band of conservatives.

  4. I am not going to barrel in and blame the provincial NDP government in Alberta for this or the extremely green, untested federal Liberal government just yet. No one saw this downturn coming as it was a matter of believing that Saudi Arabia’s oil production could never return to the levels of the eighties. This is very similar to the downturn of 1986 when the barrel price suddenly fell through the floor just when the patch was recovering from the shock of 1981. From that long term decline we saw the implosion of the U.S.S.R and the fall of the Berlin Wall. This time around, I don’t know if we will see such a positive outcome, the middle east has become much more unstable region than what it was in the eighties and OPEC nations are in just as much of a panic as we are. This could very well be a play by the U.S. to destabilize OPEC or yet another move to destabilize what is now considered Russia.

    Having said that the Liberal government has still not even considered reviewing the newly signed Trans Pacific trade agreement, the biggest pact in a generation and went barreling into Paris signing on to anything shoved in front of their nodding, eager faces with no consideration to the potential impacts. Our eager beaver Justin and his happy pen have me greatly concerned as to what the ramifications of lowering the planet’s temperature by two degrees will mean for the Canadian energy sector but we still have yet to hear anything in that regard. The worst thing to do is panic or at this point but I wish the media or federal opposition members would start pressuring our newly minted Prime Minister as to what is going on with both items and when are we going to see some sort of recovery in eastern Canada now that our dollar is back to peso status. Infrastructure spending is so short term in terms of jobs, why not try to kick start the anemic manufacturing sector?

    Memo to Justin, don’t worry about Star Wars premieres and new immigrants, show some interest in the worried Canadians right now.

    • Don’t sweat it Kevin,

      Once Saudi Arabia and Iran start bombing each others’ oilfields….the Alberta Jobs will come back, AND a large source of terrorist funding will cease.

      Win win !!

    • Why do I get the feeling that Alberta is being forgotten by our new PM? Signing away our future in Paris, while countries like China and India continue polluting like there is no tomorrow? Allowing environ-mental cases to continuously attack our oil and gas sector (I am looking at you David Suzuki) while allowing the import of oil from Saudi Arabia by the tankerful (and we all know how much they respect human rights in that neck of the woods). Both the federal and provincial governments want to invest in infrastructure. That’s a good thing, but guess what? You need a tax base to pay for this. That means EMPLOYMENT! That means remembering Alberta and what we contribute to the economy of Canada. Rant over, stepping down from my soapbox now.

      • Because you are not paying attention. See Canadians did not vote for Harper. They voted for Trudeau. And he is doing exactly what we wanted him to do when we voted for him.

        • Sorry jameshalifax, the vast majority of Canadians voted for parties that ran on platforms that included taking climate change seriously. In fact, they did so even during the ten years of Conservative government.
          Of course I’m not suggesting that you can’t continue to soothe yourself with whatever evidence-free fantasies help you sleep.

          • vast majority? since when is 39% a vast majority? and the conservatives actually only got 200,000 less votes than the previous election…….jesus you people spew bullshit so easily

          • Yes, but in the last election they worked hard to suppress the vote, and that hard work paid off. This election way more people voted, despite Harper’s attempt to stop that from happening.

            When more people vote, the conservative vote share decreases. Simple.

          • “When more people vote, the conservative vote decreases (and we’re governed by)…Simple(tons).”

            There, fixed it for you.

          • Oh, poor little conservatives. So bitter that the vast majority of Canadians do not agree with them.

          • Poor little proggies. So bitter their cherished leaders prove to be even more inept than predicted to be.

          • Ummmm…vast majority?

            Harper got a majority with 39 %, and so did Trudeau.

            I guess when harper won in 2011, he had the VAST majority of support that you describe now, Gayle.

            (math is so hard isn’t it)

          • Here is the scary thing. The Americans agree Canada should lower its emissions. Unfortunately, the Americans don’t agree they should have to lower their emissions. Even their president who pretended to be a climate change champion is selling oil now, fracking and planning to drill in the Arctic. Where is Leonardio DiCaprio when you need him. Robert Redford? Darryl Hannah? Neil Young?

          • Awww, the guy who thinks that Islamic State is a threat to the existence of western nations is calling other’s ‘simpletons’.
            How dear.

          • Your sage insight has changed my view. Guess we can send the 25,000 er 10,000 er 3,000 refugees back now.

          • Hey, if the available facts can lead you to conclude that Islamic State threatens the existence of Canada, I guess reaching the above conclusion from what I wrote probably makes sense.

          • Gotta love you progressives. You never bring anything that resembles debate to a debate. Never. You’re always full of assertions without evidence, or great multi-syllabic grad school slogans, but never anything that resembles the meat and bones of a cogent argument. Yet you always love to claim that conservatives are simple and stupid. That’s why you guys always lose at this game.

          • Sure Bill. You folks with all your facts and evidence would be presenting the world with the TRUTH about climate change, safe injection, marijuana use, evolution, criminal justice, etc., if only the universities, science journals and media weren’t conspiring to silence you.

          • tresus wrote:
            “You folks with all your facts and evidence would be presenting the world with the TRUTH about climate change, safe injection, marijuana use, evolution, criminal justice, etc., if only the universities, science journals and media weren’t conspiring to silence you.”

            The truth about these issues:

            Climate change: It is real, and it has been happening continuously. Man has little if anything to do with it. what man has done however, is get the cause and effect backwards. It is not CO2 that causes climate change, it is an increase in temperatutre that increases CO2. CO2 is a life giving gas, and when the CO2 in the atmosphere was 500 times higher than it was today, the planet was teeming with life. If you want to know what causes climate change….look up at that big ball of burning hydrogen in the sky. It is NOT due to your SUV.

            Safe injection sites: As long as these sites are used by junkies to inject morphine, or heroin into their veins there is nothing safe about them. They should be called “no arrest sites” The solution isn’t to give the junkies a safe place to inject their poison. If people really cared, they would try to get folks off dope. Even if it means you have to force them into an institution for a year or more.

            marijuana: Largely harmelss to most folks, but evidence and studies do indicate it causes irreversible brain damage in your folks as their development happens. Also, does anyone actually know a daily user of marijuana that is actually what one could consider a success? (other than Dope peddlers of course). Most hard-core pot heads are in menial jobs; if they are working at all. Smoke dope isn’;t really a habit of ambitious of successful folks. (I think booze is worse though, and we should legalize it)

            Evolution: Yep. It happend. FOSSILS !! FOSSILS !!!…FOSSILS!!! (nuff said)

            Criminal Justice: Easy solution. Treat ciminals as criminals; not victims. If you break the law and commit violence…you go to jail for a very long time. If you do it repeatedly….you should die in prison.

            As for the universities, journals, or media conspiring against folks and trying to silence them……it may be true to some extent, but mainly it isn’t conspiracty. They are just wrong.

          • should be “young” folks…not your.

          • Beautiful.
            Thanks for backing me up!
            Make sure you drop me a line when you publish your ground-breaking climate paper. Is it a collaboration with the guy who cured AIDS?
            After you get your Nobel for your climate work, their are obviously accolades awaiting you in the fields of criminology, and medicine.

          • TC- If climate change were a PRIORITY for people, they would treat it as a priority. That means they would be ditching private vehicles for public transit, not the other way around. Despite MASSIVE infusions of public dollars into public transit, a smaller percentage of commuters take transit today than in the past. People would be spending money on wind and solar power for their homes, turning down the heat, and avoiding air travel en masse. If it were a priority, they would be reducing their food intake, not cutting their lawn, and taking cold showers. They would wash clothes by hand, and hang them to dry, by the tens of millions. They would be buying the most fuel efficient car possible, period, instead of the most fuel efficient car that meets their perceived needs. Or the one with the nicest interior. That’s a huge difference.
            If climate change were a priority for most people, they would actually give up any number of mundane things or activities that cause them to use more energy. But they don’t, because a lot of those things are why they go to work every day. They go so their children can play hockey on artificial ice and ski on snow made by snow making machines and take a trip to a warmer place in the depths of February and light a fire in the fireplace so they can read and watch TV while a blizzard blows outside, or turn on the A/C so they can take a cool nap after mowing the lawn and cleaning the heated pool.
            But they’re not giving up all those things, because expressing concern over global warming is something they’ve been guilted into doing, just like Sandra Bullock had to remember to wish for “world peace” in “Miss Congeniality”. Just because they say it, don’t mean that they actually mean it. It’s when they actually do it that you know they mean it, and there’s a whole lot of not doing anything about climate change being done by the general public.
            And, if the public ain’t doing it, should the government be in the business of making them?

          • Yes, Bill.
            And if people were really worried about terrorism they’d send every last cent they didn’t need for food, shelter and clothing on security.
            And if people really care about infrastructure spending they’d send all their money to the government to build infrastructure.
            And if people really wanted to reduce poverty, they’d give all their money to the poor.
            etc., etc.,…

          • Again, look at what people do. Since 2009, firearms sales in the USA have soared, so there’s that. Their level of action on terrorism pretty much mirrors their level of concern. If the government appears to be exacerbating the domestic terrorism issue, then expect sales of firearms to rise in Canada, just as the lawlessness and intentional fomenting of racial division of the Obama Administration has driven gun sales in the US. Follow your own logic. People don’t give extra money to the government. Instead, they take advantage of any tax breaks that the government offers.
            People don’t give extra money to government to end poverty, because they see poverty as largely a non-issue. They often don’t give to the poor as they often see the poor as not helping themselves.
            As a liberal, you see a problem, and demand that everyone see it as you see it, and solve it as you see fit. As a conservative, I say, go ahead and solve the problem as YOU see fit, but if I don’t see a problem, I ain’t payin’ to solve it. if you don’t like guns, you don’t think anyone should have a gun. if you don’t like meat, you don’t think anyone should eat meat.
            A liberal demands- DEMANDS- that everyone make sacrifices for the causes he believes in, albeit not enough to put any skin into the cause himself. A conservative says, if you want to solve THAT problem, go ahead, and I’ll solve the problems I think are important.
            A liberal only wants action that compels others to do as he believes. A conservative thinks that you should work on the causes you believe in, and that others should work on the causes they believe in.

          • ” A conservative says, if you want to solve THAT problem, go ahead, and I’ll solve the problems I think are important.”

            Sure they do, Bill.
            They go bomb other countries on their own dime and their own time.
            CPC supporters are all either dead or in Syria fighting IS.
            Pull the other one.

          • libs hero is neville chamberlin.

          • trillion to the war on poverty and it hasnt accomplished a thing
            be cheaper just to give each of them 1 million
            no more poverty but in 3 yrs they would be broke and crying for more

          • And Bill,

            that’s why they need to rely on names and slogans. they really don’t understand the arguments, but they want to feel included anyway.

          • With the sexual assaults that occurred in Europe, the timing of your comment is most provocative Tresux.

          • Ah, Islamic State has started the first phase of it’s attack on Europe with sexual assaults.
            Presumably it’s during the next phase that they topple Europe’s governments and kill and enslave it’s people.
            I’ll keep an eye on that, Gage.

          • What??? Are you really mocking the suffering of those women? Some were raped. I think you are getting a little hysterical if you think it is a conspiracy but covering up the crime of sexual assault so that certain persons won’t look bad is not acceptable. You might not take these incidents seriously but Merkel is. Those found guilty will be deported.

          • “Are you really mocking the suffering of those women? ”

            Ah, no. It’s wasn’t them.

          • Actually,

            I think most of the refugess we have now were the same folks we had screened and cleared under the previous government. it was the harper folks who did all the work for the Syrians we received before the New year.

            all Trudeau did was show up for the photo-ops and selfies.

          • Haha…

            I just did the same thing. Sorry…didn’t notice you beat me to it.

          • Here, Gayle..let me correct that for you. You wrote:

            “When more people vote, the conservative vote share decreases. Simple.”

            it should actually read, “When more IGNORANT people vote, the conservative vote share decreases. Because of simpletons”

            there you go.

          • Now the guy who thinks more than half of Alberta’s oil production has ceased is calling the majority of Canadians “simpletons” too.
            Too cute!

          • As an outside observer, I can’t remember a time when the west didn’t resent the east. The only difference back in the day is the east didn’t think of the west at all.

        • Yes he most certainly will do that, Justin promised deficit spending and we Canadians will get that in spades. When you have the majority of the voting population living and working in the two most indebted provinces it is a recipe for complete failure. Just as was the case during the depths of late 80’s/early 90’s recession we saw growing talk of western Canadian separation and I think that will rise again and soon as this spins out of control. Logically, the best solution for western Canada to survive this latest downturn is to rid themselves of a massive obligation of transfer payments to a debt ridden basket case that consists of an antiquated manufacturing sector and thousands of overpaid civil servants hiding out in Ottawa who collectively contribute nothing to the country’s economy short of their own personal spending resulting from salaries provided by taxpayers. This is not an angry rant, I really do see the west reaching this conclusion especially if this recession deepens and carries on for a number of years.

          • There might be talk of Albertan separation, so let’s call it that, ok?
            It’s doesn’t involve those of us on the west side of the Continental Divide.

          • You do not understand how transfer payments work.

            As a born and bred Albertan, I do not agree with your prediction.

          • Strong words coming from a one-trick pony petro state.

        • Tresus imagined:

          “Sorry jameshalifax, the vast majority of Canadians voted for parties that ran on platforms that included taking climate change seriously. ”

          I’m sorry Tresus, but the issue of climate change has repeatedly come DEAD LAST in survey’s of Canadians’ concerns. As always, the facts you proclaim, are largely found only in your head. But hey…at least that’s something.

          • As usual tresus,

            You rely on “Bandwagons” to tell you what to think, whereas I simply go by what makes sense and is logical.

            I wouldn’t care if I was in a roomful of PHD’s who believed in (man-made) climate change, and I was the sole “denier” they would ALL STILL BE WRONG and I would be right.

            folks like you however…..would simply go by what side had the most support, because actually THINKING about something and sorting out what makes sense or not….is just too hard. You are a lemming.

          • The comedy never stops!

            Jameshalifax: “the issue of climate change has repeatedly come DEAD LAST in survey’s of Canadians’ concerns.”

            Me: (provides evidence that Jameshalifax claim is utter BS)

            Jameshalifax: Well, uh, you rely on “Bandwagons”

            I admit that I don’t rely on utter lunatics to tell me what to think.
            I do rely on dentists to take care of my teeth, doctors for medical treatment, and engineers to design the bridges I cross.
            And of course I tremendously look forward to the publication of your Nobel-winning climate paper that proves all those dumb Phds wrong!

          • Rankings don’t contradict the fact that ” 73 per cent agree or somewhat agree that “climate change presents a significant threat to our economic future”, that the vast majority of Canadians have voted for parties running on platforms of addressing it, and that the government has a clear mandate to do so.

          • That was from your Poll tresus…not mine.

            In fact, polls around the world pretty much tie into what I have found. In the larger scheme of things, folks are looking for jobs, and a sound economy. the phoney issue of “man-made climate change” is pretty much a non-issue.

            guess not all the folks are as deluded as you and your ilk, tresus.

            but by all means….keep pretending you are on the side of the masses.

          • Uh, no.
            When ” 73 per cent agree or somewhat agree that “climate change presents a significant threat to our economic future” , that isn’t a “non-issue”.

            Is it that you can’t imagine being concerned about multiple issue simultaneously?

          • Tresus, do you find it odd that following the Paris climate summit, Obama who rejected Keystone because Canada wasn’t doing enough climate change, lifted a 40 year embargo on exporting American oil? Now why would a guy who wants to eliminate the use of fossil fuels start selling them to the world? Meanwhile, he is inviting Justin Trudeau to dinner at the White House because Justin, his new best friend and the leader of a country that is a competitor or was a competitor in the oil business just promised to eliminate much of his country’s oil drilling so that his country can keep their climate change at 1.5 degrees. Meanwhile Obama says he can promise any limit on his countries climate limit because he can’t get the other politicians in his country to agree. Do you think the Republican party forced him to lift the embargo and start selling oil internationally? Do you think the Republican party makes him support fracking or drilling in the Arctic or do you think he just snowed Canada?

          • Call me crazy Gage, but when I want to find out what the science says about a particular issue, I don’t try to parse what some politicians have said or done, I LOOK AT THE SCIENCE.
            Weird, I know!

          • Well Tresus I believe in science too. I just am asking you to explain in terms of the science how it makes sense for an emitter that contributes 1.6 of the total carbon emissions in the world to shut down their oil business when one of the biggest emitters in the world has shown no indication that they are planning to shut down and in fact is doing the opposite, is setting up to do more drilling which will create more emissions. The truth of the science is that Canada is globally a small emitter. If we completely stopped emitting carbon, it would make almost no difference to climate change except as a gesture. You are interested in the science of climate change but the truth is that climate change is completely politicized. The Paris conference and Obama’s denial of Keystone allowed him to rid himself of a competitor in the market for fossil fuels. Canada as a low emitter will never make a difference in the future of climate change except in terms of innovation because we don’t contribute enough to the global problem. As a person interested in the science, you have to know that. Rachel Notley knows that. She has been handed her a** by Obama in a shell game.

          • That Canada’s total emissions are not a large portion of the world’s emissions is irrelevant. Canadians are amongst the highest emitters in the world, yet you’re no more entitled to spew unlimited quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere because you happen to live in Canada than if you lived in some other country. Every single emitter in the world can claim they’ll “never make a difference”. Sure, the other provinces can reduce it’s emissions, but why should PEI? We’re so small.

            Do you dump your trash in the ocean because ‘lots of other people do and yours won’t make a difference’?

      • Well Canarioca … now you know how the rest of the country felt when Harper was PM. Get used to it.

        • Mellor,

          Maybe you spent most of your time outside of Canada when Harper was PM.

          1. Transfers to the provinces went up
          2. Military spending increased
          3. Public Service increased
          4. Infrastructure spending increased.
          5. Spending on first nations increased. (but you are not allowed to know this)
          6. Immigration increased.
          7. Massive spending to deal with Global meltdown; and yet the budget was still on track to be balanced by Fiscal year end. (5 Billion surplus for the year).
          8. Unemployment rate dropped.
          9 Dollar was high.

          yeah..that Stephen Harper. Who needs him.

          (Wait til you see what Trudeau does after just two or three years. )

          • Forgot a few others

            10. Gst from 7 to 5%
            11. Dozens of tax reductions
            12. Middle Class in Canada surpassed middle class income in the United States.
            13. World-wide recognition of Harper’s economic accomplishments
            14. Multiple free trade agreements…


            Carry on.

          • Because what we all need is more free trade agreements. Mulroney wiping out the manufacturing base in eastern Canada is one reason you have less to fall back on during resource economy shocks. The US overall isn’t in much better shape. A less risk-averse technology sector (and less risk-averse funding for it) and foreign currency parking are helping patch over some really weak growth stats (our U6 driven employment stats are a whitewash once you look outside a few key regions). Hopefully we’ll reject TPP which will make it a moot point in Canada.

    • “it was a matter of believing that Saudi Arabia’s oil production could never return to the levels of the eighties” Those who choose to ignore history are likely to be surprised when it repeats itself. In any case, markets are a matter of supply and demand where the supplier with lowest costs can win the most demand.The jaundiced view is the Saudis are just trying to run the high cost competition out of business.

      • If you want production to decrease….simply take out all foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia.

        If you do that, the Saudi’s have no one who knows how to run the machinery or technology to extract oil.

      • Wouldn’t call it jaundiced; that’s exactly what they are doing, although there is high social-political risk for the kingdom if they aren’t successful in their bid over the next few years.

  5. Cheer up. It’s not all doom and gloom like this article would like you to believe. More people in Alberta are employed in the public sector than have ever been in the oil industry. That’s why Alberta voted NDP. We’re still kicking butt and taking names.

    • Gofa…

      the only “butt” your kicking, are the butts of all those folks who have, or soon will lose their jobs. And their butts will all be kicked to the welfare line, or back to the province they came from.

      And what will Ontario and Quebec do when Alberta under the NDP no longer have the money to send their way to pay the bills? They will have to raise taxes or cut spending, and given the “progressives” in power in those provinces…I don’t think it takes a genius to guess which route they will take.

      • I would be very interested in your evidence that the NDP has made this economic situation worse.

        Please point to specific policies and provide hard numbers showing the correlation of those policies to the economic situation in Alberta.

        Graphs would be helpful.


        • Gayle….did you read the article?

          Have you watch any Alberta political news?

          Do you even know where Alberta is?

          If you have’nt’ bothered with the first two…then I doubt you would be able to answer the 3rd.

          As for the economics lesson in how taxes hurt…especially in a shrinking economy, then I’m sorry. No amount of “graphs” would help you grasp the concept. I can’t fix your level of ignorance. You either “get it” or you don’t.

          you simply can’t.

          • Hey, for kicks let’s pretend I did not read the article. How about you point out the exact portions of the article where the authour sets out exactly what policies Notley has implemented that have hurt the economy. Because otherwise your failure to point to said policies yourself makes it look like you just do not know what you are talking about, and that cannot be true, can it?

            As for Alberta, I guess you are unaware I live here? But hey, I guess I can accept lectures from some guy from Halifax on what is happening in my home province.


          • Gayle,

            the fact you live in alberta, and maintain your level of ignorance confirms what I wrote above. I could give you the “cliff notes” version of economics, and you simply wouldn’t have the level of knowledge required to understand it.

            As for the exact portions of the article to help you out, there is this:

            “But critics have also targeted her government for decisions it did control: hiking corporate taxes, ordering a review of energy royalties, and unveiling a massive climate change plan that will shutter coal mines and power plants and impose an economy-wide carbon tax. “There are clear signals from the government they’re going to continue destabilizing the investment sector here,”

            Now Gayle, I understand that you may read this section of the article and not see this as the problem; but this just affirms what I have observed so far. You are basically just another clueless dolt who doesn’t understand anything other than, “Conservatives are meanies cause they don’t want to give me free stuff”

            carry on, and when you lose your job (unless of course you are on the public payroll and support the NDP) just come back and read the article.

          • How did I know you would refer to the opinion expressed by the opposition leader to support your dubious claims? Answer – because you have absolutely nothing to support your dubious claim.

            Let me help you. I asked for what the author said. You gave me what someone else said as quoted by the author. These are actually two different things. Especially since that someone else is the person trying to take Notley’s job. See, simply asserting something does not make it magically come true.

            Not that I expect you to understand that, or really, understand anything at all, given your absolute refusal to point to any evidence of any specific NDP policies leading to any of this economic mess.

            (Hint – that is because that evidence exists only in your, and Brian Jean’s, imagination)

          • Gayle wrote:

            “How did I know you would refer to the opinion expressed by the opposition leader to support your dubious claims? Answer – because you have absolutely nothing to support your dubious claim.”

            Gayle, the opposition did not MAKE UP the above comments about NDP policy..the ndp did. IT is in their platform (some of it) and the rest has been reported on extensively. The NDP didn’t run on increasing the taxes, or imposing a carbon tax; but they did it anyway.

            There is nothing DUBIOUS about anthing, Gayle. As usual, you have been asleep at the switch again, and even though you live and work in Alberta, it takes some guy from Halifax to point out how completely deluded you are. If you want confirmation….just listen to what Notley says in her speeches. She is stating her policy repeatedly; it is just that her critics know she is wrong, and Notley remains clueless.

            Carry on, Gayle.

            (I guess the term ignorance is bliss was coined for folks like you)

          • Hmmm

            I see a bunch of words, but still no evidence. Not that I expect you to admit you have no evidence. Apparently you think spouting a bunch of words will somehow obscure the fact that you have nothing to back them up.

      • the NDP is borrowing the money to maintain transfer payments…..sound economic sense……I’m sure Rachel has it all under control

      • Gayle wrote:

        “Hey, for kicks let’s pretend I did not read the article”

        Gayle, it may be more beneficial if you could pretend to UNDERSTAND the article. Then you may have a fighting chance.

        • I am not the one who has problems with that one James.

          Nice try though.

  6. In today’s weird world of people voting against their own interests, Albertans voted for the guy who had no intention of stimulating the economy rather than the guy who will. You’d think jobs from much-needed infrastructure spending would be welcome at this point in time. I understand that the high times coincided with Conservative rule , but voting for Harper wouldn’t have brought back $100 oil.

    • Colleen,

      Government spending doesn’t stimulate the economy as you would believe; or as Trudeau insists. At the end of the day, who has to pay the bills? (hint: it ain’t trudeau or the Liberal party) government spending is just a means to hold off the wolves until the economy improves, but if the improvement doesn’t materialize…..you can expect some problems. See Greece if you want to know more.

      • Government pump priming is of great value – at the right time and with the right projects. If Trudeau’s infrastructure spend is focused on true infrastructure and even alt energy, it will continue to offer value after the initial stimulus is spent. Greece was a bit more complicated with not just over generous – but extremely over generous – public sector spending and rampant tax evasion adding fuel to the fire. Plus, it simply doesn’t have the economic infrastructure of a G20 country.

  7. Reading this story, you might be left with the impression that there are two cities in Alberta that support its economy – Calgary and Fort McMurray – and that because they’re hurting, everywhere else in the province is hurting.
    Um… no.
    Calgary and Fort Mac, to be certain, are likely hurting the most but that’s for a fairly simple reason – their economies are the least diversified in Alberta.
    Places like Edmonton, Red Deer, Grande Prairie and others are riding out the storm a bit better because they’re better prepared for it – either by design by circumstance.
    Take Edmonton, for example. Depending on your political stripe, you will either deride it as being a blue-collar town of denim jackets and sweat pants, or fat-cat university/government centre, but my guess is the critics are pretty quiet right now. Edmonton’s obviously taking a bit of a hit, but nothing like Calgary is. Mordecai Richler once derided Edmonton as Canada’s “boiler-room,” but I reckon Calgary would probably take that right now. It means that dirty, icky industrial grunt work gets done in Edmonton, both for the local oilpatch and for northern Alberta. Edmonton’s been a regional hub for northern Alberta in a way that Calgary’s simply never been for southern Alberta and it’s times like these that bear that out.
    Meanwhile, up in northwestern Alberta, there’s actually a bit of a mini-boom going on in an industry that’s quietly been operating in the province longer than the oilpatch has – forestry. Mills in the Peace Country are hiring because demand for lumber and pulp (which is used to make all kinds of recession-proof consumer products) is high overseas and the U.S. That means a city like Grande Prairie is faring far better than Fort Mac is – thanks to a bevy of lumber and pulp mills in the area.
    Then there’s farming. It may come as a surprise to many working in the oilpatch that there are sectors of the economy that do better when the price of fuel and other petroleum products are as low as they are now. No, you’ll never get rich farming, but no farmer is going to turn down diesel fuel that’s under a buck a litre or gasoline that’s currently hovering around 80 cents. It means cheaper fertilizer, too.
    Don’t get me wrong – I feel for Calgary and Fort Mac and all of the other communities, big and small, across Alberta (including GP and Edmonton and many others) that have been ravaged by the whims of a bunch of amoral sheiks on the other side of the world. But we’ve always been told that these days would come and that putting too many eggs in one petro-basket would bite us in the (butt). One of these days, we need to do something more about it than whine and promise to not to waste it away next time oil’s $100/barrel.

  8. I’m thoroughly enjoying this story’s hyperbole and Calgary’s narcicism. Ever heard of a place called Edmonton? You know, the capital of Alberta? The same capital that will actually have moderate growth in 2016 and a much lower unemployment rate than the naval-gazing wanna-be capital of Calgary? Not once is Edmonton even mentioned in this article, let alone its economic resiliency.

    Calgary is not Alberta no matter how much they like to think they are. Some of us are doing just fine. It’s time to put Calgary’s narcicism out to pasture.

    • Yeah, I picked up on that, too. One thing that’s happened with Calgary over the last 15 or 20 years is it doesn’t have much of a feel for what goes on beyond, say, Airdrie. It’s had the rest of country telling it how wonderful it is for the past decade or so and it’s helped feed a swagger that was there long before that. In many ways, Calgary has become the Toronto of Alberta.

      That isn’t a compliment.

      • The thing about Calgary is that for the last 10 -15 years you could smell the greed … a quick walk through that pathetic downtown core stunk of greed and was filled with smugness. So it’s pretty difficult to feel sorry for them now. Not so Edmonton – always a valued and measured city.

    • Adjust for Edmonton’s projected 2016 growth that is attributable to public sector spending largely financed by debt and get back to us – we’ll wait.

  9. I’m laughing out loud because it’s so true. And don’t even get me started on Travel Alberta aka Travel Calgary and Banff.

    • Oh trust me, I know. Tourism and travel promotion in Alberta is … shall we say … rather “403-intensive.” Don’t get me wrong – there are some nice places to visit in southern Alberta (I love this province, from border to border) and some spectacular places in Banff. But if you want a quieter, less commercial, less crazy mountain park to visit, you’re far better off to go to Jasper.

      Again – I don’t want it to sound like I don’t feel for the plight of those who work in the oilpatch or any of its many supporting industries. I’m not anti-oil or anti-industry. Far from it. I want there to be a strong oilpatch in this province – it’s a lot more fun here when the joint’s hopping.

      • Sounds like a signal prioritization problem. Of course, always better to build underground or at least in a right of way. Edmonton has one section of tunnel in its LR already but they are expensive. Although it rides nicer and looks nicer, if a train can’t travel faster than a bus, then it is a boondoogle.

  10. While not dismissing any of the troubles that the unemployed/laid off are facing – this happens about every 9 to 10 years. You need to ride it out- unfortunately, once again, people overestimated the good times rolling.

  11. The growth was forecasted before the NDP budget and confirmed by CoE’s latest forecast. Good try though.

    • So Edmonton’s relatively stronger position in the economic downturn has nothing to do with being the capital and, accordingly, the recipient of tens of billions more govt $ more than Calgary? Prentice was right – math is difficult.

      • No it doesn’t actually. Edmonton is more diversified because of the public governance sector, post secondary, education, as well as its economic hub for Northern Alberta, amongst other things. Facts are tough aren’t they? You’re speaking as if the infrastructure announcements are going to be focused on Edmonton when they clearly aren’t.

        And give me a break. As if the Klein and other PC governments were so kind to Edmonton in the past. The only reason Calgary grew as it did was because the PC power centre was based in Calgary and they were rewarded for it. Edmonton was a liberal town and was punished severely for decades.

        Personally, I’m quite enjoying Calgary’s over-due look in the mirror.

  12. As usual Macleans thinks Alberta only consists of Calgary strangely Edmonton is not suffering to this extent why?

    • It’s coming as soon as all the city funded, debt financed projects are completed. Edmonton will not be hit as hard because of the concentration of government workers in that city. Edmonton will benefit from the pain inflicted on the rest of Alberta by the massive tax increases introduced by the new government.

    • My goodness, I am a civil servant in Alberta. Edmonton is the home of the majority of the provincial civil service. Rachel Notley refused to do cut backs in the civil service and you are asking why Edmonton is not suffering the way Calgary (home of the private sector in Alberta) is? Hello!!!! Is this a trick question???? I have a tip for you. The very rich in Calgary which by the way is the city in Canada with the highest number of millionaires per capita are not suffering either. It is the middle class as you noticed from the article. It is the oil workers who came to Alberta from other provinces. You complain that the provincial Conservatives spent all the oil money but as the article points out, the Alberta population grew by great numbers yearly. That population growth meant we needed good roads, schools to accommodate the children of the workers and hospital beds. We needed social services for our growing population. Where do you think that money came from? Alberta charged its citizen’s no health care fees. We charged our citizens very low taxes. In short everyone made good money, had excellent services and paid very little for the luxuries of living in the province. Now they are all angry because Saudi Arabia (which is also suffering financially) is in a religious war with Iran and is opening the taps to control the price of oil. The man who was described in the article from Nova Scotia must have some great house there for that price. I heard a Canadian economist speak. He said the problem with us Canadians, it that we bought too much house. It is true. We bought what we can’t afford. We counted on oil remaining at $100.00 and it wasn’t just Albertans but people who worked in the province and lived in other provinces. On the bright side, I read that Saudi Arabia needs a barrel of oil to price out at $109.00 to break even so that country can only hold out for so long. Already they are picking a fight with Iran by murdering on of their clerics.

      • 200 million a day for the war in yemen plus saudi funds
        al queda and isis. bin laden was saudi.

  13. While the Alberta economy has suffered harm due to the oil price decline, the vast majority of the damage I witness has been inflicted on the people of Alberta by an inexperienced, arrogant government that clearly has no concept of economics and is operating on the basis of strict ideology rather than the interests of the people of Alberta.

  14. Lots of comments trying somehow to link everything bad to whatever politics they don’t like. That’s normal. But as the article points out, the price of oil is seriously down. It didn’t mention that demand for coal, another key Alberta export, is also down. Brad Wall and Stephen Harper could ride in on white horses to oust the NDP and it isn’t going to make a difference in either of those things.

  15. And now for something completely different. Young Mr. MacKay is from Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
    The name Pictou is derived from the local First Nations word for fart. Yes. Probably because the area
    is laced with coal deposits that are riddled with methane pockets that occasionally leak and lend a
    certain thickness to the air. Westray. So, anyway. Please carry on.

    • Perhaps Mr. MacKay should have purchased a smaller home in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. This is the thing I don’t understand about those who emigrated from other provinces to work in Alberta. One can buy a house on the cheap in another province so do that, get in and make the money (many made upwards of $150K to $200K per year), pay off the house, put aside some money so you can get out. The companies in Fort Mac put people up in very nice camps and in most cases paid for the flights. It wasn’t like living in Alberta where the costs were high…

  16. What about the guaranteed pay cheque mob? You know, from fat cat public sector workers, healthcare to teachers and city employees, and other drones?

    Has a single one of them even lost their jobs? Do they even know that the economy is in the toilet?

    • So your answer to a stumbling economy is more lay offs, leading to less money circulating in the local economy, leading to more lay offs…

      Your kids still need to go to school, and you still need to see the doctor. The city still needs to operate. Roads still need to be repaired.

      • yes, all those things need to be done.

        but if you aren’t going to fire any of them, at least reduce their hours as required, and their salary as necessary; unions be damned.

        • Great plan. Schools should only operate in the mornings. That way we can pay the staff less.

          How the parents are going to manage child care while they are at work is their problem!

          • As usual, Gayle….you don’t get it.

            Ahem: If there are less kids in class due to many oil-field workers going back to their own province, then yes, lay off some teachers, reduce hours, etc.

            As for parents managing child care while they are at work……..are you really that daft? They will manage it the same way they have always managed it. The problem is NOT people with jobs, Gayle; the problem is for people who have lost their jobs. If parents who lost their jobs remain in Alberta…they can look after their own kids.

            Carry on genius.

          • I love how you totally understand what is going on in Alberta classrooms from your home in Halifax. Maybe you should read the article again, about how all those oilfield workers have been living here and sending money to their wives and children back in their home provinces.

            But hey, don’t let the facts or reality start getting in the way of your mindless ranting.

          • Anyway, I will write my MLA, who, fortunately, is in cabinet, and let her know some guy from Halifax has the answers to all our problems. We can shorten school days for the children of people who have lost their jobs, and then fire some teachers.

            That will fix everything!

            Genius indeed.

          • Gayle,

            My comments were in reference to your insistence that cuts to Government spending cannot be justified by a drop in oil revenue. That would lead me to believe that you are most likely on the public Teat and therefore don’t mind when other folks have to make sacrifices……..as long as you are not included on that list.

            I used a reduction in education costs as an example. Just one of hundreds that could be considered. Hmm..maybe you are a teacher? That would explain a lot.

            and if that is correct…..I would also assume you would teach kids at the 5 – 7 year old level. and certainly not anything having to do with math.

          • Gayle noted:

            “Anyway, I will write my MLA, who, fortunately, is in cabinet”

            Just that alone should convince you of the useless nature of your cause. Is this the cabinet minister who has the main claim of competence of being in the roller derby? Or is that someone else?

            Oh well…it is the NDP. No one ever expected actual competence or experience to be found on their resume’s.

          • I am not a teacher, which is a pity because apparently you need some remedial reading lessons.

      • why wont rachel move the aupe pension from defined contribution to defined benefit like the ndp did in sask. a 10 yr teacher at the cbe makes 92 k and retires at 51 or so on 60 k pension. christy during the bc teacher strike complained ab pays its teachers 20 k to much.
        nurses here make 3 more an hr than in bc. they scam the system say they work part time come in for ot and end up making over 100 k a yr

    • As a provincial civil servant, I can tell you that I do know how bad things are. I can also tell you that Notley (whom I did not vote for) is telling all of her ministers to make cuts. Therefore, empty jobs are not being filled unless deemed essential. Unfortunately, we are seeing increased crime and therefore cutting police would not be an option. Cutting front line healthcare is likely not an option unless you want deaths in the ER waiting rooms because Alberta was always operating at a shortage. As for teachers, many Calgarians sent their children to private and charter schools and the public board in Edmonton wasn’t over-funded in terms of teachers unless you think 25 kids in a classroom which includes children with disabilities is a cakewalk for a teacher. Alberta never funded daycare. People here were all well paid so it wasn’t necessary. Yes, civil servants are well paid and during the Ralph Klein years we lost a generation of nurses and physicians to hospital closures and lay offs. Then we paid big money when the price of oil came up to recruit back nurses and doctors from other countries. Cheer up. Those well paid civil servants are paying Notley’s taxes and because she won’t fill jobs lost to attrition, those “drones” will be working harder. Many of those civil servants have spouses who have been laid off so they are the single bread winner in their families. If they lose their jobs, they are on the govt. dole or welfare and you can’t get seen in when have a heart attack.

      • Gage C.- How is it that the public sector pushes forward with this idea that they should be immune from market forces when economic times are tough, but not immune when things are good?
        When the economy is marching along in good health, we of the taxpaying kind are constantly told that our taxes must go up because we have to spend extra to get good people to take government jobs. Interestingly, I have yet to see any evidence put forth that ever showed that it was difficult for any branch of government to fill their employment rosters. How do we know we have to pay as well as we do when no government in Canada has ever made a concerted effort to drive down the cost of providing public services, save for a few years under Ralph Klein. In spite of the fact that it actually led to lower taxes AND a balanced budget. In spite of the fact that no one can point out any tangible deficiencies to our public infrastructure that resulted, we are fed the leftist mantra that the Klein years were dark and disastrous.
        Can anyone point to any real, genuine human harm that came about as a result of the Klein cuts? Nope. Move on.
        The problem that we face today is that the Alberta public budget has grown far faster than the ability of the tax base to support it, compounded by the Notleyites ambitious goal to shrink the tax base while expanding spending. I’m sure that’ll work. After all, it’s never worked before, but hey let’s give ‘er another shot, right?
        Our budget problems stem from one inescapable fact- 90% of the spending increases that were above the combined total of inflation and population growth went into payroll. The reason that the provincial government became increasingly unpopular with a broad segment of the voters was that spending was easily seen as outstripping our ability to pay. There was no reason for us to have to pay more taxes simply to support the economic ambitions of our own employees. Not when we had supported a broad effort to get us out from under the pressure of big government.
        That brings us around to the question at hand. If the public sector sees it as their right to demand some form of parity with the private sector, then the taxpaying public has a right to expect that the public sector should be forced to endure broad pay cuts in order to ease the tax burden on the people who actually pay those costs. Can anyone in the public sector give me a moral or ethical reason why there should not be unilateral pay cuts across the board within the Alberta public sector in order to reduce the tax burden, due to reductions in revenues?

        • Nurses in Alberta have taken roll backs on wages in the past. Then along came Allison Redford and her flights and her penthouse plans. Physicians were recruited because they spent more 15 years getting an education and honing skills that allow them to perform services that very few people can. Are they worth less than a CEO from an oil company because I can tell you they aren’t making the same money as a CEO and the CEO’s aren’t take a pay cut at this point. These doctors have massive student loans to pay. They worked for years as residents doing long hours and making pittance per hour. I thought you people were all about supply and demand. Apparently you are when it comes to the private sector but because we have public healthcare, we who happen to work the frontline should volunteer our services. Listen, I get it. It is really unfortunate that healthcare is an essential service. In some provinces, there aren’t any heart surgeons. That is why the former premier of Newfoundland, Danny Williams went to Florida to get his heart bypass surgery. We could do that in Alberta. Shut down the services.
          Meanwhile, nurses have taken pay cuts in the past and then information was leaked about Allison Redford and her spendthrift ways. All of a sudden, ER staff didn’t feel inclined to cut their paycheck to pay for the premier’s penthouse…funny that. Now…maybe you should ask Rachel Notley to do any audit of system in general and explain why there were 85 vice presidents, 5 retired and 10 remain. What jobs were the other 70 shuffled into. Maybe we are a little administration heavy….oh and this time save yourselves some money. Don’t give the managers 2 years salary when you lay them off like you did in 2009. They might as well work for the 2 years…

          • Gage C.- Where you go off the rails with your argument is with the notion that most CEO’s are at the head of big corporations. It’s the opposite that’s true. Most CEO’s are owners of small businesses. They’re still CEO’s, and small and mid-size businesses are still the lifeblood of the economy.
            Sure, doctors have big student loans to pay off, but a guy running a ten-employee small business can have just as much at risk. They’re not guaranteed a profit, so why should we guarantee a profit to those who work in our socialized health care system? It is after all, a socialist endeavor, and the first premise of socialism is that profits are theft.
            Part of the problem is this notion of “worth”. What’s a doctor or a nurse worth? While we do have a rough idea of the market value of a doctor, based on a lot of factors including the reaction of a free market, we really don’t know the real value of a nurse. Even when Alberta forced pay cuts on the profession, there was still no shortage of nursing students. The price of their labor never fell to a point where they quit the profession or quit enrolling, so we don’t know where the real value lies beyond the fact that it’s lower than where we’re at.
            The private sector always looks for the bottom, even at upper management levels, and unlike public employees, the pay in the private sector is always the sum of a series of consensual transactions. If the price of any transaction is too high for either party, the transaction will not occur. This is in contrast to the non-consensual nature of citizen-government transactions, where the coercive power of the state compels a transaction (i.e. the payment of taxes) even though one party of the contract may justifiably feel the price is too high. This factor alone has a tremendous ripple effect across the economy.
            That’s a long way of getting back to your point about people taking pay cuts. You would likely be shocked at the pay cut I’ve had to absorb. A guy whose business might have been worth $2 million in 2012, might have a company worth half that today. That’s a haircut. If you owned publicly traded shares worth $25/share in 2013, and they’re worth $8/share today, that’s a cut. Sure, there are lots of people not taking actual pay cuts, but they’re taking financial cuts nonetheless. Meanwhile, public employees are not only not taking cuts, they’re immunized from the impact of market forces upon their retirement savings.
            In lockstep with a loss of 1/3 of my income today, along with the savings that go with the income, I (and virtually everyone else in the private sector) will see a loss in value of the savings we already have in place. Upon recovery, if that ever happens, I will be compelled (There’s that whole compulsion thing again. Funny how that whole compulsion thing works…) to pay increased taxes, thereby reducing my ability to save for my won needs, and reduced services so as to protect the pensions of the government workers whom I am compelled to pay above market rates to via my taxes. Do you see how we might find that somewhat problematic out here where taxes are given, not received?
            Now, you’re dead right about Redford. She was actually our first NDP premier. And you’re right about all the levels of management in government. In most companies, the majority of the personnel will be directly involved in making, selling, or servicing the products the customers use. Most staff will be directly related to the delivery of goods and services to the customers. In almost every government in the country, there are double the administrative staff than would be present in a private sector operation, compounded by union featherbedding and the necessity of providing a substantial pension.
            The net result is that our vaunted “socialism” has become a one-way street where the benefits of socialism all flow to those who work as unfettered, monopolistic capitalists within a closed, compulsory system, and the downsides of socialism are all borne by those who choose to work in a capitalist, free market environment.
            What we find odd is that any attempt on our part at imposing some form of equity upon the system is fought with intense hostility by those very “socialists” who we’re compelled to pay to work for us. Again, my question is, What is wrong with imposing a little more socialism upon the socialist sector of our economy?

      • nice pension eh. huge paycheque. not much to do
        and no layoffs . ah the easy life as a govt worker.

    • no worker at the city of calgary makes under 34 k a yr
      and that is the gal who takes cash at the golf course.
      they get a nice pension and retire at 50 or so.
      i know a guy on city pension. 95 k a year
      this is nenshi. city of calgary workers get a 4% raise this year zero layoffs

      • There is no bigger illustration of the ongoing disconnect between economic reality and the public sector than what we heard as “news” yesterday. The provincial government announced that it will save $57 million by freezing the wages of 7,000 non-union and managerial employees.
        Let that sink in. All the way.
        In what reality would a non-profit that has been bleeding red ink for several years even be considering handing out wage increases averaging $4000 per year? In what reality would it be news that an enterprise struggling to find sources of income is withholding $4000 pay raises to senior employees? The real shocker should have been that the province was planning on handing out raises in the first place. And that, my friends, is the core of the problem.
        We have a provincial workforce whose senior bureaucracy is so completely inured from the realities of the labor marketplace as to not understand that people in management don’t receive automatic raises every year. This is something I learned almost 30 years ago.
        In the real world, once you hit a certain pay level, the chances of you getting a raise without improving your economic output are nil. That earnings point is somewhere between $65K and $85K annually. From that point forward, if you want to earn more, you have to expand your economic value to the company you work for. You have to sell more, or improve the performance of your department, or add some other form of value to your output. Even then, if you’re working at a company that’s losing money, chances are there’s no raise in your future.
        Yet here we are finding it newsworthy that an organization that’s been losing money for a few years now is going to save $57 million (newsworthy in itself) by instituting a wage freeze. It is a wholesale indictment of the caliber of management at the provincial level.

  17. The Alberta “Dream” has been driven by speed & greed for 4 decades & with no plans & no political will for anything different. Now there are consequences. Big International Oil from China & elsewhere will not suffer & won’t particularly care that Albertans might. Perhaps wholesale selling off OUR resources for the sake of “investments” wasn’t such a great idea? Not to mention almost irreparable damage to OUR water, land and air? More like a nightmare IMO

    • Yes, GAGE G and to TRESUS CAPAX I would offer that the externality effects of the Notley administration shifting to a more sustainable paradigm and economic plan will be felt/incurred as a result of the past shortsighted and neo liberal agenda/profit driven policies of the previous administrations. Embracing the opportunities for more resilient communities and future prosperity that this new government is leading you towards, rather than looking to blame them for the current stress placed on government and displaced workers (by previous administrations/globalization and global neo-liberal policies) would serve Alberta’s/Canada’s narrative and prospects more positively.

      • And we’ll all mount our unicorns and head off to work in the alternative pixie dust factories.

      • Cathy reid:

        “I would offer that the externality effects of the Notley administration shifting to a more sustainable paradigm and economic plan will be felt/incurred as a result of the past shortsighted and neo liberal agenda/profit driven policies of the previous administrations.”

        And that my friends, is the kind of gobbledygook that only a University Student could muster for her mid-term paper. As Cathie has demonstrated….if you don’t understand the actual mechanics of the economy, write something as ridiculous as she has written and hope folks don’t ask questions.

        here is a small hint, cathie. If there is no profit, then there is no production. If you can’t make money then you are at a standstill. No more hiring, no more raises, no more taxes to government coffers.

        so yes…you just keep practicing your “University speak”. I’m sure it will impress your equally idiotic professors teaching Keynesian economics, but for the folks who actually understand what is going on….you just look like a duffus.

          • I just tell it like it is Scott,

            Folks who don’t like it…..can go pound sand.


        • It may help you to understand her comment if you look up “paradigm” in the dictionary. You don’t even need a university degree to do that!

          • I already understand the word Gayle……did you make the comment because you were asking?

    • ever wonder why tom lost big in the election. slaughtered
      because the ndp offical leap document demands nationalization of every company. they demand an end to resource extraction.
      they demand an end to current farming practices. and ranching well thats done cows make up 15% of methane. this is the radical ndp we have in power in ab.

  18. Where the article states “Which leaves a province of four million people with little to do but wait for a recovery of crude prices to rescue its employment prospects, government coffers, real estate markets and so much else.” – this is simply not true. As it points out, Mohr says “Iran could add 500,000 more barrels a day “in a market that doesn’t need the additional crude,” Clean renewables will supply world energy so Canadians should be looking for more productive pursuits (regenerative agriculture/technology, etc.) and to restructure their economic measures away from deficient GDP to include the health/wellness of a balanced ecosystem.

    For those who have educated themselves to the structural deficiencies of our economic paradigm and the causes of wealth inequality, environmental/climate degradation and social justice issues, the rapid divestment of fossil fuels is a welcome trend (and one that all Canadians should view as an opportunity to shift our resource allocation and productivity models to more circular and sustainable constructs that include the full cost accounting of externalities).

    • Do you know that the city of Calgary C Train and city buildings run on renewable resources. Okotoks also has a community that is powered by renewable energy. Southern Alberta has fields full of wind turbines. We might have had oil seeping out of the ground (literally in the oil sands) but we weren’t ignorant to environmental concerns and other options.

      • all energy in one grid. taxpayers just pay more so called green power.
        suckers we are. if this wasnt practical at 110 oil and needed subsidys imagine what it needs at 30 oil/

    • And we’ll all mount our unicorns and head off to work in the alternative pixie dust factories.

      Reply ↓

      ON JANUARY 8, 2016 AT 12:57 AM

    • Yep…cathie’s still an idiot.

      as an aside Cathie……
      1. how big would the batteries have to be to allow for an 18 wheeler to travel from the port of Vancouver to Toronto? How would these batteries be produced? By who? Where are the materials coming from? How do you get them out of the ground? do they have solar power mining equipment?
      2. What airline currently has solar powered jumbo jets? Wind powered? Maybe we should all go back to derigibles.

      As for the rest of your post….it is the typical crap I’ve heard so many times before by the Marxists and socialists who don’t really understand how things work. you want to SOUND like you know what you are talking about, but in reality, you have just lifted the lines from the marxist pamphlets you picked up at the last “occupy” protest.

      You remain an idiot. But you should at least be grateful that you don’t realize it.


      • The guy who thinks most oil production in Alberta has ” simply stopped” is calling someone else an “idiot”.
        That’s adorable.

        • Tresus,

          I’ve already shown you to be an idiot once on this topic…but please allow me the opportunity to do so again.

          In response to the link in your other comment, I wrote this:

          “It is clear from your selection of graphs that you don’t understand what you yourself have provided as a reference. I’ll give you some clues, and maybe you can understand your own post one day.


          1st, something you should have noted (but clearly didn’t) about your graph. It was for the years 2005 to 2016. therefore most of what you posted was for past production; though it doesn’t really matter. I’ll tell you why.

          2nd. Alberta consumed less oil than it produced, because believe it or not, what was not consumed, was sold to the United States. That is how Alberta managed to make billions of dollars, including the money they sent to Quebec and Ontario.

          3rd. Production has decreased, but not because there is no more oil. It decreased because the oil is worth more in the future, than it is right now. When the price goes back up…production will increase. Consumption has remained fairly steady, because people still need to drive their cars and heat their homes, etc.

          So Tresus, if you are trying to be “clever” in the future, you may want to restrict yourself to subjects you actually understand, as opposed to copying the first graph you manage to find on google.

          i’m just trying to stop you from making a fool of yourself again. I know it’s hard, but trust me….it will be worth it. Just try harder.”

          Just say thanks, and move along….lol

          • Hahaha!
            Sure James.
            Let’s be generous and pretend that by “most production” you meant the smallest possible definition – barely more than half.
            Sadly, that claim is still almost too idiotic to mock:

            But, you’ve got a source for that claim that contradicts every shred of available evidence, and you’re going to present it to us any minute now, aren’t you?

    • you sure love that word paradigm…….and seeing as how private enterprise drives the economy and not government, since there is no money in your alternate economic paradigm, it won’t happen any time soon…just sayin as I mount my unicorn and head off to work in the alternative pixie dust factory….

    • Cathie Reid bloviated: (and I shall translate from University student mid-term paper deserving a C-…… to real world language)

      “For those who have educated themselves to the structural deficiencies of our economic paradigm and the causes of wealth inequality”

      Is student Marxist speak for, “For those of us who don’t think we’re being paid enough for our meagre and sub-par performance at work in the real world (as opposed to Cathie’s paradigm), and demand that those who are more intelligent, who work harder, and have more employable skills make up the difference through increased taxation on those who work harder than the rest of us……..and give it to the hoardes of Cathie reids currently waiting for Government funded employement as long as it isn’t too physically demanding.”

      The C- student goes on

      “environmental/climate degradation and social justice issues, the rapid divestment of fossil fuels is a welcome trend”

      This line is harder to translate, because it is actually a contradiction. On one hand, she writes about saving the planet and the rapid divestment of fossil fuels being a welcome trend. Welcomed by who? Well, it isn’t welcomed by the tens of thousands of newly unemployed people who relied upon the energy sector for an income. It shouldn’t be welcomed by the poor who now have a government who can’t afford social programs. So much for social justice. Unless the poor can eat solar energy or wind power…..looks like the food bank for them.

      She goes on

      ” (and one that all Canadians should view as an opportunity to shift our resource allocation and productivity models to more circular and sustainable constructs that include the full cost accounting of externalities).”

      What she means is all Canadians who think like her and don’t have to worry about actually earning a living view it as an opportunity to shift resource allocation. Of course, what she means is some folks will need to continue working in order to shift their resources to folks like Cathie; but Cathie would prefer it not involve any digging or stuff. As for the full cost accounting of externalities, she is referring to some method of ensuring that Governments remain in control of the economy (as the NDP believes) and that governments maintain a list of options to confiscate others’ wealth in order for it to be redistributed.

      Frankly, given the deluded, pie-in-the-sky writing produced by Cathie….one would think she herself is a newly elected NDP’er in the Alberta legislature.

      Live it up Cathie….because come election time the NDP in alberata will not only lose the election, they will most likely be disbanded and outlawed in the province given the damage they will have done by then.

    • ever wonder why tom lost big in the election. slaughtered
      because the ndp offical leap document demands nationalization of every company. they demand an end to resource extraction.
      they demand an end to current farming practices. and ranching well thats done cows make up 15% of methane. this is the radical ndp we have in power in ab. plus offical ndp policy is to support gaza and dump israel,

    • How? And before you spout off the kind of nonsense that others here have done, I am asking for specific policies, and evidence showing that those policies have “made matters worse”.

      Good luck!

      • Gayle,

        the very fact you don’t understand how NDP policies will make the province worse off economically……are pretty much how the NDP were elected int he first place. People who actually understand policy……don’t vote NDP. (Unless of course they’re looking for more freebies)

        • Hey! Great response! Instead of actually addressing the question, just call me ignorant for not voting the way you think people should vote.

          I bet no one will even notice you cannot back up your assertions.

          ha ha ha ha ha

  19. After reading this I remember a time a simpler Time in Alberta.
    I still Have my Check Stub from 2005 from the Alberta Gov’t for $400.00
    Dear Albertan:
    Enclosed is your Alberta 2005 Resource Rebate…
    Congratulations and thank you for helping build this Province.
    Premeir Ralph Klein

  20. Upside of it all is that low oil equals low Canadian dollar which will help exporters. Ontario, especially the struggling auto sector should florish.

  21. Bemused that the comments get into politicians…guess you folks are looking for scapegoats.
    It’s basic economics folks. Supply exceeding demand.
    Time for Canada to make things and export them … rather than import them. We used to. Lot more jobs that way.

  22. Hi Bill

    Could you provide some evidence to support your assertion please?


  23. Interesting read, more interesting is the commentary.
    It is clear that Canada has polarized and the west resent the east and the east the west. We can assign blame to government or lack there of, the tectonic shift in AB politics, blame Prentice, Notely, Trudeau and Harper. I think as a Canadian maybe we need to look at this differently. When will AB become a have not province and need to receive a transfer payment. If so whom is going to make this payment? An American and I apologize for not remembering his name spoke of the strain in Canada and the potential for Western separation if oil stays lower longer. It is no secret that Western Canadian select sells at a significant discount to WTI which the US now has moved closer to Brent. Desperate measures for desperate times? The only good news is the west had a high convection to being CDN. Lastly as a CDN we are being delusional if we believe the low CDN dollar to the rescue like in the 80/90’s. ON manufacturing will not save the day as we now compete with Mexico that has cheaper labour and thanks to ON policy cheaper power. Capital is mobile and capitalism is heartless. You forget companies are responsible to shareholders and considering many companies in this country are subsidiaries of foreign entities they don’t have the moral suasion by government. Standard and Poors downgraded AB credit rating. Why? Everybody says because of oil. Partially correct. They said because Ab doesn’t have a plan to get out of it, rather this government like others just throw money and hope something sticks. Rome wasn’t built in a week but it appears the newness of both Governments are accelerating the troubles. If we lost 50K jobs in the East what would happen? We need to work together as Canada and quit blaming each other rather find ways to all succeed.

  24. One more comment isn’t going to make a real difference to what has already been said, except that, everyone in Alberta should have seen it coming. The rest of the world, even in the States, has been telling you in books and articles that there has to be an end to the use of oil, that it is one of the major end causes for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, along with coal production and usage, along with beef production, etc. Is it reasonable to expect to keep jobs related to those products, when every where you look you can see what is happening to our climate. We are driving climate change, and we are doing it with fossil fuel production. We are responsible and we are going to have to get it through our heads that continuing with the status quo is not the answer. Suffer it now, learn to deal with it, or forget about what you are doing to your own kids and their kids, because they are not going to forget it.

    • well no manufacturing job are coming back.
      cbc national. mexican car plants. 3 dollar hr 22 here
      so long cars. no unions no troubles no pensions.

    • the offical ndp leap document demands all companies be nationalized
      and an end to resource extraction and current farming and ranching
      cattle are 15% % of emissions ( true check it out ). so cattle have to go.
      this is what the ndp believes. this is the govt in ab. this is mulcair who lost big time at the polls. justin isnt crazy tom and his ragged band is.

  25. Resource extraction has more in common with acting than probably any other vocation. Highly lucrative, but the with uncertainties that could result in long periods without work.

  26. Isn’t this just another case of ‘easy come, easy go’.
    We can’t expect to receive a six figure salary forever
    without really having a skill. We now understand that without
    a marketable, transferable skill set, you will be unemployed
    for a considerable length of time. Time to go back to school
    to upgrade your education.

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