Islanders worry about job prospects out west

With oil and gas prices continuing to fall, P.E.I. residents who work out west are more than a little nervous.

Falling oil and gas prices could affect P.E.I. residents, communities

Wendell McNeill, who has worked in Fort McMurray for five years, says he's not confident there will be steady work for him out west. (CBC)
With oil and gas prices continuing to fall, P.E.I. residents who work out west are more than a little nervous.

Just this week, energy giant Suncor announced plans to cut 1,000 jobs and $1 billion in spending in response to falling oil prices.

Economic experts say a recession in Alberta this year is possible.

It could also spell bad news for small P.E.I. communities like Georgetown.

Of a population of just 600, Mayor Lewis Lavandier estimates there are roughly 50 residents earning most of their income out west.

He says much of that money ends up being spent back on the Island, so western job losses will impact the local economy.

"What are you going to do? The jobs just aren't here on P.E.I.," said Lavandier. "They talk about jobs with the fish plants and things like that. But the wages are just not comparable to the wages out west."

Mayor of Georgetown Lewis Lavandier says the oil and gas price slump might offer a good opportunity for the province to examine job creation. (CBC)
Randy Desroches, who headed back to Alberta on Wednesday, is fully aware of how P.E.I. employment opportunities compare with those out west.

"It's hard to find a good-paying job on the Island, I know that, and it takes a lot to live."

For nearly five years, Wendell McNeill has worked in Fort McMurray, Alberta, visiting P.E.I. for short periods.

McNeill says heading west this time is different. He's not confident there will be much work.

"It plays on a person. I'm wondering now, am I going to work? Am I going be sitting in camp? Am I going be able to make it home?

McNeill is worried he could among the next victims of a slumping oil industry. He says there's just too much on the line on P.E.I.

"My family means a lot to me, and if I can't look after them, it plays on you."


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