Let me tell you about a magical place where the rate of unemployment is 4.9%. The unemployment rate is so low that business owners need to import workers from overseas to work unskilled jobs for above minimum wage. In other parts of the country, business owners export work to factories overseas where they pay less than minimum wage, but this place is magical. The median household income is $94,460, $20,000 higher than the $74,540 for the country.
These figures describe a place called Alberta, a province which has added 81,800 jobs in the past 12 months, while the rest of Canada lost 9,500.
Just think about that for a second; Alberta added 9 times more jobs than the rest of Canada lost. That’s ridiculous and embarrassing. It’s magical. The bulk of the loss was from Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland (a combined loss of 37,800 jobs). Ontario gained 10,300 jobs in the past 12 months despite losing 33,900 this June. And Ontario has a population three times as large as that of Alberta!
Canada is bleeding on the table, while Alberta is doing laps around the hospital. No matter your stance on the environment, climate change, and the oil sands, it is impossible to ignore the prosperity that the tar sands have brought Alberta.
And people are running to Alberta for that very reason. Since 1976, 483,600 people moved to Alberta from elsewhere in Canada. During the same period, 465,400 people fled the barren wasteland known as Quebec. The mass exodus was caused in part by separation anxiety, but also because of the lack of opportunity in the province and on that side of the country.
Yet, there are those out there who still want an unconditional ban on oil extraction.
The motley crew of “activists” are more ready than ever to somehow “save the planet” through a minuscule reduction in Canada’s fossil fuel impact on the world, under the assumption that China and America will play along and slow the rise of the oceans (spoiler: they won’t). Perhaps they also think that we can save the environment without efforts from the (by far) largest polluters (spoiler: we can’t). Therefore, until we have a viable alternative fuel source, and until other countries agree to limit fossil fuel use as well, we should take all we can out of the ground.
Instead, other provinces have done all they can to keep it in the ground. Quebec has banned the recovery of shale gas based on anecdotal evidence and little corroboration from any of the hundreds of studies on the matter (of the 20,000 wells in the US, contamination has only occurred a handful of times in the event of surface leaks and other breakdowns, and not as a side effect of the process itself). Instead of evidence-based decision-making, we have a case of decision-based evidence-making.
How about we consider all the other goals accomplished by not closing down the oil sands solely due to self-righteous aggrandizing, such as poverty reduction and improving the wages of workers? A job in the oil sands can offer a $90,000-$120,000/year salary, right out of high school (actually), not including overtime pay. The net result? Tim Horton’s needs to close down restaurants because no one is willing to work for as low as $17/hour. If that’s not an easy way to naturally achieve a living wage, I don’t know what is.
Instead of holding ourselves back with energy regulations that will have only a negligible effect on worldwide emissions, let’s get Canada moving again. Let’s open the taps in every province. Let’s drill for oil.