Many Filipinos in Alberta working in the oil and gas industry were among the many laid off last year due to the collapse in oil prices.
But with recent talks between the Canadian government and the oil and gas sector, kababayans are hopeful this will be the start of the province’s economic recovery.
With the price of oil down at below $30 per barrel, Albertans believe approving a 4,600 kilometer energy east pipeline that will start from Alberta and end in New Brunswick will help the province recover from the oil slump.
Henry Pacunayen has worked in the oil and gas industry since 2006 as a piping designer. He got laid off in the 2008 economic recession, found work in 2009, and then he was laid off last year again when his company downsized.
“Dapat ang gawin nila ang pipeline ay masimulan na. Yun talaga ang problema ng oil and gas dito sa Alberta ngayon kasi kailangan nilang i-push ang mga product para kasi ang kompetisyon dito sa North America, before ay sinusupplyan natin ang US, ngayon kompetisyon na natin sila,” said Pacunayen.
Raymund Roy is thankful that he was one of the last staff to be laid off from his company last year. Now he struggles to pay the bills and support his family.
“They have to work together and approve this plan that they have kasi importante yan sa Alberta and not only in Alberta, but all over Canada,” Roy said.
The pipeline was one of the highlights during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to the province.
While there was no agreement reached, both government and the oil and gas producers said the meeting was very encouraging.
“We all know that Albertans and industry leaders in Alberta and this government don’t control the price of oil internationally. But what we can control is how we respond to it,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
Trudeau assured he will let the National Energy Board’s process go forward to allow them to do their job without political interference.
“We Canadians are there for each other in times of difficulties. We’ve always been that way and we will always be that way. I have tremendous confidence in our ability to make it through collectively the challenges we are facing,” Trudeau said.
Around 20,000 Albertans lost their jobs in 2015, the highest since the 1982 recessions.
While the job forecast in 2016 remains dim, many are hopeful that ongoing talks between the federal and provincial governments and the oil and gas producers will yield positive results.
(Q. Evano, abs-cbn)