In what is likely to be only the first measure to address the challenges the energy and resource sector is facing, the Trudeau government today announced two initiatives intended to save a projected 10,000 jobs in provinces hardest hit within the sector – BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland – while allowing Trudeau’s team to affirm it is staying the course for its commitments for the environment.  The government will provide over $1.7 billion in funding for those firms engaged in the cleanup of inactive and “orphaned” wells. Trudeau also announced the establishment of a $750 million dollar emissions reduction fund to focus on pollution caused by methane and create jobs through emissions reductions. Of this fund, $75 million will be allocated to oil and gas companies working offshore in Newfoundland & Labrador. 

Trudeau stated the government is also working with Business Development Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to expand credit support for medium-sized energy companies particularly at risk.

All of this is meant to signal the government’s support of the energy sector, while maintaining its commitment to the environment – a key election and policy priority.

But despite calls by the Opposition for the government to scrap its current plans to reduce carbon emissions because of the energy sector’s unprecedented vulnerability in world markets, there was no sign of concession from today’s announcement. This funding is targeted for impact on the investments the sector can make in clean technologies for emissions reductions. As Trudeau stated in his opening remarks, “the public health crisis must not prevent us from taking action to fight climate change.”

Undoubtedly, there will be increased calls from the Opposition and from the provinces for increased support of Canada’s energy sector as they face unprecedented challenges as a result of increased oil production, and a reduction of demand due to social isolation measures.

“We knew from the outset we would have to do more …”

Artists, Athletes and Small Business Owners Also Targeted by Stimulus Measures Today

After his remarks, Trudeau responded to a question from the Huffington Post’s Althia Raj about those who had “fallen through the cracks” with the government’s efforts. Trudeau stated that the government has always realized it would have to do more beyond its initial announcement of fiscal stimulus measures, especially for sectors hardest hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic. The second large announcement today, targeted at culture and sports, was for $500 million, distributed through Heritage Canada, to support artists, creators and “rising stars of our sporting associations.” Individual artists and athletes will be eligible to receive wage support and organizations can access funding.

New support for companies not eligible for wage subsidy

The government announced $962 million to regional development agencies and the community futures network and $270 for IRAP to help support businesses that aren’t eligible for the government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.  

While the announcement offers hope to companies in the tech and life sciences sectors not currently supported by existing programming, the terms and conditions of these funds will ultimately determine which companies will be eligible. 

And that played to the larger theme of today’s announcement: for those who have yet to feel they were truly on the government’s radar, the government has caught their distress signals and are now responding. That response should be seen as a work in progress though. For those in the western provinces and working in the energy sector specifically, the Opposition will be affirming the government’s response has not gone nearly far enough, nor has it targeted where it should for maximum impact.