With a combination of nearly historically low oil prices and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister and Grande Prairie—Wapiti MLA Travis Toews admits that even the normally economically robust Peace Country won’t escape economic hard times.
“The Grande Prairie region will not be immune to the economic challenges that will be faced by the province as a whole. While we have a resilient in the region, [and] an economy that has significant diversity, and that will be of value in the upcoming months, it will not be immune to the downturn the province will experience certainly in the energy sector and beyond.”
Earlier this week, the Government of Alberta announced it’ll be providing immediate financial help to Albertans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Jason Kenney says a one-time payment of $573 is meant to fill in the gaps for those waiting on the federal economic stimulus.
Toews adds, while the provincial package is robust, it will be looked at on a continuous basis to see if top-ups are required.
“We have a series of programs in through our Community and Social Services Ministry, and we will be looking to strengthen those are required, and the Emergency Isolation Support Program is one way we’re strengthening those.”
He says the federal economic stimulus package, which totals $82 billion between personal and business aid, will also greatly help part of the oil and gas sector.
“That request for a federal response on orphan and inactive well reclamation was in our first submission, and we followed up repeatedly, [so] I was very pleased when Minister Morneau actually verbalized it in his press conference.”
In the end, Toews says despite hard times ahead, he knows Albertans will stick together to lift each other up throughout.
“We’ve endured hardship in the past, and we are headed for some hard days, weeks and months ahead, but I’m confident if we stick together, which we will, we will get through this.”
As of March 20th, Western Canadian Select oil prices were trading at just over $10 U.S. a barrel, down from $30 U.S. two weeks ago.