Canada puts people over polluters in federal aid package for energy sector

Canada puts people over polluters in federal aid package for energy sector

Friday April 17, 2020

Trudeau announces $1.7 billion to clean up orphan wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, emphasizing that the country cannot overlook the climate crisis in the face of a health crisis.

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Canada’s Prime Minister announced today that the government will invest in creating crucial environmental jobs for struggling oil sector workers in their latest COVID-19 federal aid package.    

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed $1.7 billion dollars towards cleaning up orphan wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia as well as an additional $750 million fund towards reducing emissions, creating jobs and cutting pollution, with a focus on methane.

“Today, Prime Minister Trudeau made clear that Canada’s bailout package will prioritize addressing the climate crisis and building the cleaner, safer economy we need. This is the kind of leadership the world needs. This bailout announcement is a major turning point for oil and gas politics in Canada,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director, Stand.earth. “Supporting workers, addressing climate change, and cleaning up orphan wells are all measures that align with global targets to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. The end of business as usual and winding down the oil and gas industry are a hard, but necessary part of achieving these targets.”

For weeks, thousands of Canadians have been pressuring Canada’s federal government to put workers' needs ahead of polluters. Earlier this month, 56,000 Canadians called on the government to bail out workers instead of big oil, delivering a petition to Members of Parliament during a virtual rally.

In his announcement, the Prime Minister emphasized the undeniable need to support oil patch workers and their families right now -- many workers are currently reeling from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of the global price of oil. However, in a world increasingly awakened to the threats of climate change, Trudeau also noted that while the world may be facing a health crisis, Canada cannot neglect the environmental crisis in the process. 

“Today’s announcement is just the first in what will be a larger conversation on the future of the oil and gas sector in Canada” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Programs Director. “We need the federal government to continue to put workers and people before polluters by investing stimulus funding in re-training for oil and gas workers and helping to diversify the economy in regions of the country that currently rely on oil and gas.”   

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Media contacts: 

Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager, ziona@stand.earth, 604-757-7279