Edmonton

Millions of hours of work lost in Fort McMurray wildfire and evacuation

Four of five people employed in the Fort McMurray area lost an average of five weeks of work following the wildfire in May that forced the evacuation of the city, according to numbers from Statistics Canada.

Statistics Canada report tallies impact on employment

The natural resources sector in the Fort McMurray area lost 2.7 million work hours due to the wildfire and evacuation, the largest number of hours by far of any industry. (jacos.ca)

Four of five people employed in the Fort McMurray area lost an average of five weeks of work following the wildfire in May that forced evacuation of the city, according to numbers from Statistics Canada.

The report released Friday shows 42,000 employed people, or 80.4 per cent of the employed population, reported they lost 8.5 million work hours in May and June due to the wildfires.

At the same time, 9,600 workers, or 18.5 per cent, of the employed population gained 870,000 hours of work, rendering the net effect as a loss of 7.6 million hours worked.

The data helps measure the overall economic impact of the wildfire and evacuation, Statistics Canada said. The evacuation occurred on May 3, while a phased re-entry took place the first week of June.
Total work hours lost in May and/or June as a result of the wildfires by industry, Fort McMurray area (StatsCan)

While most industries suffered over the two-month period, employees in transportation and warehousing accounted for the most lost hours (87.5 per cent) as a result of the wildfires. Those sectors were followed by health care and social assistance workers (85.7 per cent) and natural resources employees (85.1 per cent).

But due to the sheer overall size of the oilsands industry, it was the natural resources sector that lost the largest number of hours of any industry overall — 2.7 million hours.

On the plus side, a large number of people employed in public administration reported an increase in their work time in May, adding 482,000 hours, the highest among all industries. 
Total work hours gained in May and June as a result of the wildfires by industry, Alberta excluding Fort McMurray. (StatsCan)

The report also breaks down the figures by age groups and gender.

Over the two-month period, comparable proportions of men (80.7 per cent) and women (78.9 per cent) worked fewer hours, with the average amount of time lost per person also similar — for men 206 hours, women 200 hours.

A significant difference between men and women was the amount of extra hours of work claimed.

One in five men reported working extra time during the fire and ensuing evacuation, with an average of 100 additional hours over the two months.

About one in seven women worked extra time, gaining an average of 66.7 hours.

The largest proportion of workers who lost hours in both May and June was among those aged 25 to 39. This age group also had the largest proportion of workers who gained hours over the period.

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