Alberta unions applaud federal support for oil and gas workers – AFL

EDMONTON – “The money for orphan wells and methane reduction, announced by the federal government today, will help the environment and create jobs at a time when they’re desperately needed,” says the president of Alberta’s largest worker advocacy organization.

“This is a classic win-win scenario,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “The $1.7 billion being dedicated to orphan and abandoned wells can be put to use almost immediately. It will help address a problem that has been simmering in Alberta for years and, in the process, it will put literally thousands of people in the oil field service industry back to work. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most constructive things that the federal government can do to help oil and gas workers at this time. It’s greatly appreciated.”

McGowan says he’s also very happy with the work the federal government did to get input from a wide variety of stakeholders.

“Here in Alberta, we’re used to our provincial governments consulting only with industry and then making a policy based on that narrow range of perspectives. But the federal government took a very different approach, consulting with workers, environmental groups, landowners and others, in addition to industry. It’s very refreshing. And, I think it shows that you get better policy outcomes when you take the time to hear from a wider cross-section of people.”

Of the $1.7 billion ear-marked for well remediation, $200 million will go directly to Alberta’s Orphan Well Association and $1 billion will go directly to the Alberta government. Alberta will be required to address concerns about how the whole issue of orphan wells is managed going forward.

“That last point is really important to us,” concluded McGowan. “This money won’t just create jobs; it will also require the Alberta government to clean up its act when it comes to implementing and overseeing rules requiring oil and gas companies to clean up their acts. That’s very good news for our province.”


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL