As Canadians, we are fortunate to live in a country with vast and abundant natural resources. The development of these resources is, and will be, a cornerstone of our economy for generations – despite industry challenges including destructive Liberal policies, foreign nations manipulating the price of oil to try and destroy North American production and reduced demand for energy because of COVID-19.
In recent years Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s blocking and delaying of export pipelines caused a major downturn in the price of Canadian oil with devastating effect on Canadian energy employers. The result: mass layoffs throughout the industry and many businesses forced to close their doors for good, while others removed Canada from their names and shifted operations south of the border.
The impact on Canada’s economy is far reaching. Restaurants, hotels, retail stores and oilfield service and equipment companies all experienced significant decreases in the number of customers, jeopardizing the viability of their businesses.
Many communities in Saskatchewan are centred around local natural resources, whether that is mining, forestry, oil and gas, or other means of energy production. In some cases, up to 80 per cent of a community’s population will be employed by a single mine.
This Liberal government accelerated the closure of coal communities across the country. A transition period that would provide support, resources and opportunities – while promised – has not materialized. When the government, through a federal policy, kills workers’ jobs, it is the government’s moral obligation to ensure those workers have the support they need to find alternative employment.
There is hope for Saskatchewan resource workers. Carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) is a global environmental solution, and something the international community sees as a key component of a low-carbon future. We have seen firsthand how using CCS on retrofitted coal-fired power plants can achieve significant reductions in emissions.
The Boundary Dam Power Station already reduced emissions equivalent to taking over 750,000 cars off the road.
This technology can also be utilized in other high emissions industries, such as cement factories, some of the largest CO2 emitters worldwide. Just last month, a new CCS project in Alberta was approved to take emissions from a factory and refinery near Edmonton and to pump that CO2 underground into old oil reservoirs.
Western Canadian technology is leading in protecting the environment and job creation. The energy industry continues to come up with innovative ways to do this, whether through using CCS technology, enhanced oil recovery, developing and using geothermal energy and much more.
The people of Saskatchewan are resilient and willing to roll up their sleeves to do the hard work, but we need a federal government that will support the home-grown initiatives that will revitalize the energy industry – while also providing resources to those workers affected by Liberal policies. It is only by working together at all levels of government that we can truly achieve this and secure the vitality of our province’s energy sector now and into the future.
Dr. Robert Kitchen
Souris-Moose Mountain MP