Natural resources sector suffered steepest job losses on record due to COVID-19, StatsCan says

Grim job numbers released Thursday demonstrate how hard COVID-19 has hit the oil and gas industry in Canada.

Energy subsector fell 10.1 per cent in real GDP in second quarter

A pumpjack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta. COVID-19 has hit the oil and gas industry hard in Canada, the latest Statistics Canada figures show. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Grim job numbers released Thursday demonstrate how hard COVID-19 has hit the oil and gas industry in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, the country recorded its largest ever drop in natural resources employment in the second quarter of 2020 with close to 43,000 workers losing their jobs.

Employment in the natural resources sector fell 7.3 per cent.

The losses have been driven by a substantial drop in demand for crude oil and refined petroleum products due to global travel restrictions and the growing prevalence of working and schooling at home, Statistics Canada said in a release.

In the energy subsector, there was a 10.1 per cent drop in real GDP.

"The decline was exacerbated by lower international demand for natural resources, as the economic activity of major trading partners (such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan) fell sharply," the agency said.

Mark Scholz, president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, says some of its members have gone under as a result.

"But most of what is happening is if they can have parked their equipment, have essentially reduced their operating costs to nothing, have reduced their presence almost near nothing, and are just trying to kind of bear down, so to speak, and hopefully wait for the next signals of recovery."

Scholz says he doesn't expect a recovery for another year. In the meantime, he says he'd like the different levels of government to do more to help the industry to survive.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney slammed the federal Liberals over this week's speech from the throne, saying it failed to acknowledge the Canadian oil and gas sector and included policies destined to damage the already battered industry.

Federal tax incentives promised for companies developing net-zero technologies unfairly exclude the oil and gas sector, Kenney said.


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