Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more information on a financial aid package for the struggling oil and gas sector is coming, although a firm timeline still has yet to be released.
Earlier this month, Trudeau said his government was looking for a way to help. That promise came nine days after Finance Minister Bill Morneau said an aid package for the oil sector was “hours, potentially days” away.
Trudeau was asked about the bailout again Tuesday morning, during his daily news conference regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognize that the most important thing from the very beginning was to get help out to Canadians right across the country, regardless of the sectors they’re in, regardless of their situation or their location,” the prime minister said.
“That’s why we put forward two extremely strong measures that help all workers across country — the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for people who have lost a paycheque and the Emergency Wage Subsidy so that people can keep their jobs and be ready to come back to work when the economy comes back.
“We will and we are looking at more specific sector-related relief and supports for those sectors that are hardest hit — whether it’s the tourism sector, the airline sector or the oil and gas industry or others — we will have more to say on that shortly.”
Last week, several CEOs of companies involved in Canada’s oil and gas industry made a plea for financial help from the federal government through a letter published in the Financial Post.
The opinion piece, titled “An open letter to Canadians from oil and gas workers,” asked the prime minister to introduce a payroll relief plan.
“This is our SOS call to Canadians,” Mark Scholz, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, said, adding any and all help is critical right now.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said last week that the long-awaited bailout would contain measures to improve “liquidity” for Canada’s energy sector and is coming soon, but he also didn’t say when.
On Sunday, OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations finalized an unprecedented production cut of nearly 10 million barrels, or a tenth of global supply, in hopes of boosting crashing prices amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and a price war.
Producers say Canadian oil wells will continue to be shut down amid weak global oil prices despite the agreement.
The price of Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend oil rose by almost five per cent on Monday morning from Thursday’s close, but remained stuck below US$5 per barrel as U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil prices inched up by an equally modest amount.
Both oil prices drifted lower through the day on Monday and wound up in negative territory, with WTI down 35 cents at US$22.41 per barrel and WCS settling at US$3.96, down 43 cents or almost 10 per cent.
With files from The Canadian Press.