Oilpatch worker urges Justin Trudeau to help Alberta in widely shared Facebook post

An Alberta oilpatch worker’s widely shared social media post accuses Justin Trudeau of ignoring Alberta's economic pain, and calls on the prime minister "to start helping our own people through these tough times."

'Please start helping our own people through these tough times'

Ken Cundliffe, with wife Teresa and son Jaxon, born Oct. 5, said the federal government needs to help Albertans by reviewing the equalization payment system and the length of time unemployment insurance can be collected. (Supplied)

An oilpatch worker's widely shared social media post accuses Justin Trudeau of ignoring Alberta's economic pain and pleads for help during the economic slump.

Since Lloydminster's Ken Cundliffe posted the letter on Jan. 10, it has been shared thousands of times.

"Since you will not acknowledge what the low oil prices have done to our own people, I will," wrote Cundliffe, an operator with Husky Oil. "It's hard to say in words how scared and desperate people are becoming."

The letter paints a dire picture of layoffs and unemployment insurance running out for many, alongside a jump in theft and suicide rates.

"Alberta has not taken an equalization payment for over 50 years and has done more than its fair share in supporting the East in that time. Now that the Alberta economy is struggling due to low oil prices, why do you refuse to acknowledge the problem?" he wrote, questioning why the Liberal government has given away "BILLIONS of Canadian taxpayer dollars to other countries."

"Please start helping our own people through these tough times," the letter urged.

"You wanted to be the leader of our country. Show some leadership skills and work with the West for once. Please forget about your image on the "World Stage" for a while and focus on your own country. That's all I ask."

Calls for EI changes

While Cundliffe does not offer specific solutions in his letter, he told CBC News in an interview there are several actions the federal government could take.

Among them, he suggested a review of both the equalization payment system and the cap on the length of employment insurance, adding many of these families who paid taxes for decades "have never asked for anything in their lives."

Cundliffe said he wrote the letter because he believes many Canadians are "oblivious" to the increasing hardships people in the West are facing and wanted to dispel myths that those now struggling once held high-paying jobs and "wasted their money."

The feedback has been very positive in Alberta, Saskatchewan and northern B.C., where many are affected, Cundliffe said.

But elsewhere many have shown little sympathy, he said, blaming it on low tax rates and the lack of savings for tough times.

"How many people across the country could be out of work for over a year and still be maintaining?" Cundliffe asked. "So there are a lot that did put away properly to try to get through this, but this is extending into a longer time frame."

The new father said hearing news of other young families struggling with job loss strikes a chord, because his wife is on maternity leave and "it could be us."

Cundliffe is not the first Canadian to send a message to the prime minister on social media, and the outcome leaves him hopeful of hearing from Trudeau.

Shortly after the October election, Trudeau responded to a B.C. mother's public post, which was shared and liked by tens of thousands of people.

"Like we've seen on social media, it's a good way to do it," Cundliffe said. "We've seen him reach out and respond to individuals that have wrote through social media."




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