February 3, 2016 4:43 pm

Oil workers call for more action from Trudeau


CALGARY – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in Alberta on Wednesday with oil prices in the gutter, the province’s unemployment on the rise and many in the oilpatch concerned for their future.

Here is what some Albertans have to say as Trudeau visits the province:

Chase Scoville, 19, of Red Deer, can’t find any apprenticeships to continue his studies as a heavy equipment technician. He’s been laid off from three jobs in the oil sector and wants Trudeau to pay more attention to what’s going on in the province.

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“What I would like to see from him is to not forget about Alberta,” he said.

Scoville wants to see more help for young people studying, especially since companies aren’t helping out with tuition and job training as much.

And while he’s a big supporter of helping refugees, Scoville doesn’t think the timing is right to bring them to Canada.

“Help them where they are. Don’t bring them here when our own country is in a time of crisis and downturn,” he said.

READ MORE: Alberta men have higher unemployment than Canadian average for 1st time since 1989 

Chad Miller, 35, a pipeline and facilities consultant from Red Deer, says he managed to find work only five months last year and hasn’t found any yet this year.

As an independent contractor he’s not eligible for employment insurance, but always made sure to keep six months of expenses saved. The father of three says those savings are now dwindling, adding that many others have been out of work for over a year and are already dipping into retirement savings.

“The banks don’t care if you’re working or not, they want your money,” said Miller.

He wants to see some kind of freeze on debt and mortgage payments to help out the unemployed who are struggling.

As the founder of a Facebook group called Oilfield Dads, he says many Albertans want more than platitudes from Trudeau, adding that he was disappointed to hear the prime minister tell an unemployed oilfield worker in a CBC interview to “hang in there.”

“There’s people that need help now, and when he said ‘just hang in there,’ what does that mean?” said Miller. “There’s nothing to hang on to.”

READ MORE: Thousands flood ‘Oilfield Dads’ Facebook page to support families 

Linnea Mudge, 30, of Grande Prairie, an emergency medical technician in the energy sector, wants to see more attention paid to unemployment benefits.

Mudge says her partner has struggled to get his employment insurance approved, while many others she knows have only been able to get 22 weeks of support.

“I’d like to see some acknowledgment that unemployment insurance (as it stands) isn’t really cutting it,” she said.

READ MORE: Is it time to change the EI system to give Albertans a break? 

Jason Lawrence, 35, a pipe fitter from Calgary, wants to see more pressure from the federal government on getting pipelines built.

He said pipelines like Energy East are needed and was disappointed when the Liberal government voted down a Conservative motion this week supporting it.

“I just don’t understand why they’re looking this gift horse in the mouth,” said Lawrence. “Where is the holdup? Why are we not moving ahead with this?”

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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