Saturday, February 6, 2010

Drill Baby Drill?

My bf and I were trying to find info on how many new wells will be drilled in Alberta this year, but the numbers are hard to pinpoint. We've seen newsreports and others sites suggesting anywhere from 4000 to 6000ish. At any rate, it's a shock compared to what was being done even 2 years ago.

This article via the Calgary Herald, dated May 2009, listed that over 11,000 new wells were dug in 2008, compared with a forecast of only 6600 for 2009. The article cites a few reasons such as increased US production, but makes a short reference to the increased royalties way at the bottom.

Whatever the reasons, drilling new wells has dropped by nearly half across Canada, but it's like Alberta's lifeblood and it concerns me. I see changes in a lot of industries around here. In my city, I swear many stores have had the same big sales going on since before Christmas. You know, when you see a sign in a clothing store that says '70% off! 2 Days Only!' but you see the sign up for 1.5 months so far? One place in particular I shop at often and know that they do not have sales up that long, and haven't since they opened up here several years ago. See, I only used to shop there if there was a major sale going on so I would keep my eye out for the big red Specials signs. Well, they have been up EVERY DAY since before Christmas. I would say since the Fall, end of season clearout sale just kept going. And it's been like that in many stores around here.

My job almost never has empty spaces, there is usually such a high demand for daycare, you have huge waiting lists. Just two years ago I remember telling people who called that we had over 25 kids on the waiting list, but only have 21 spaces to begin with. It was a regular thing to hear people expressing concern and disappointment at not being able to find a center, but not wanting to put their child in with a private sitter/dayhome (wanting security in numbers of adults). I listened to stories like that almost every day in the summer, several times a day. Now it's completely turned the other way. Our phone rings maybe once a MONTH with someone looking for a space. And then that person finds spaces at several other centers too (again, almost unheard of around here normally) so they get to go daycare shopping and pick which one they like the best. That is SO out of touch with how things usually are. And we even had 3 centers close down in the last few years - so you'd think the remaining ones would be even more full. But nope. We all have spaces and the most cited reason is that parents are not working as much, or some have lost their jobs completely, and they cannot put their kids into centers. I notice a heavy hit to the economy every day. Some of the kids we have left are missing their dads cos they ended up going to Mexico to work on the oil rigs. The rest are mostly single parent families who are still working in just above minimum wage jobs and get daycare subsidy anyway so they don't worry about the cost. It seems to be that a dark cloud is still over this province and I don't think many realize how bad it actually is. One center in particular here went through a huge renovation maybe 5-6 years ago, increasing their spaces from99 to 170 because of the high demand for care. But now they are struggling badly financially, cutting staff wages back, firing long term staff, and the extra spaces they built for are sitting there empty. It signals something is wrong. Dayhome companies here are down carers as well so it's not just that people are choosing different care.

Another thing that interests me is how they come up with the employment numbers. I have heard that as many as 80,000 have taken a hard hit to their wages, 15 to 25000 lost their jobs last year, or I've heard more or I've heard less. It's confusing to try to find out what is REALLY going on. Someone from a more populated area might read this and think 25,000 isn't 'too bad' but the entire province has a smaller population than the Toronto area, so 25 thousand is quite a big chunk. 80,000 is huge for us. But I wonder how they count those who have less hours. My bf is still considered full time, still goes to work almost every day, but we are on LESS THAN HALF what he has been for the past 5 years. Why? Because there are different levels of pay for Truck Time and Shop Time. He spends most days in the shop, which is a killer for our bank account, not to mention for his bosses who have to pay him even though they are barely doing anything these days. So if someone were to look at his weekly HOURS for tallying job losses in Alberta, they would see him almost at full time and occasionally getting overtime. They might pass him and his coworkers by as being 'gainfully employed' still but they are all struggling greatly. If you make $24/hr on the road trucking, but $14/hr in the shop and suddenly you are doing FAR more shop time than trucking - you do the math. That's a great cut to their usual wages. Not taking EI, not totally skint, but really struggling to keep up after a full year of this. He used to leave at 4am and get home at 8pm six or seven days a week. Now he leaves at 6 and gets home by 3pm. He has only had one overtime day in the past 3 months, which is WAY WAY WAY off the norm. I've been tallying up our grocery bill while I shop for the first time since I was a single mom making $10/hr. It's surreal.

My father in law and brother in law are working a lot more again, but they have some huge holes to fill from 9 months of not working last year. And they don't know yet if their rigs will have a Spring shutdown so they are working their butts off to try to save up some emergency cash. All their savings were used up last year. It's a bit worrisome for everyone. People are afraid, I see it every day. But we are told in the media that things are looking up... really? Are you sure? Try your own little experiments - go to the mall and wander around. See that it might be full of people, but see how many are actually carrying purchases. See how many stores have bored clerks waiting at empty tills instead of dealing with lineups. See how many shops have the same sale signs up, or are repeatedly offering BIG sales as opposed to their 'BOGO' offers at full price. My favorite store that had 70% off up for so long now has 'second item only $2.99'. So both offers together for the past week or two. I am not seeing a recovery yet. I am seeing some scared people being very cautious for the most part.

No comments:

Post a Comment