The controversy over pipelines and how much oil lies underneath Alberta may suggest that Canada has more than enough oil to meet its needs. And yet, Canada is importing more oil than ever before.
In the Unites States, oil exports have hit a 15-year high. Most of it is getting shipped to Canada, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
It seems counter-intuitive that Canada produces 3.5 million barrels of oil a day and still imports so much of it. Many oil industry advocates argue that Canada needs to refine its own crude domestically so it can use it at home. “Most Canadians don’t realize, with the abundance of oil we have here in Canada, we still import almost 700,000 barrels a day into Atlantic Canada and the East Coast refineries,” says Greg Stringham, VP Oil Sands for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
According to Stringham, refineries in Eastern Canada don’t have access to the vast amounts of oil being produced out West due to the lack of infrastructure. “This underscores the need for an East-West pipeline, as we start looking at the supply into our Atlantic refineries,” he said.
Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford agrees that projects such as an East-West pipeline could relieve Canada’s dependence on foreign oil. “Our government supports the construction of energy infrastructure that will transport our resources across Canada subject to independent, rigorous and science-based review,” he said. “Subject to approval by the National Energy Board, the construction of projects such as the Energy East pipeline proposal would further reduce Canada’s reliance on foreign crude.”
The rising oil imports highlights another issue with a contentious pipeline, says Ian Lee, assistant professor at the Sprott School of Business in Ottawa. He says US President Obama’s reluctance to approve Keystone XL, citing concerns about carbon emissions, is hypocritical. “He claims he’s the environmental president and yet quietly, behind closed doors, when no one’s looking, he’s allowing and enabling the Americans to export more of their oil to Canada,” Lee said.
There are also safety concerns when it comes to the volatile Bakken oil, which is primarily shipped via rail, a method that has been already proved dangerous in Canada. A train carrying Bakken oil had derailed in Lac-Megantic, Que. bursting into flames and killing 47 people.
The government has strengthened safety regulations around moving oil by rail, but critics say that’s not enough.
The unemployment rate in June rose by 0.1 percentage points to 7.1% as more people were searching for work in Canada.
Compared to last year, employment increased by 72,000 or 0.4%. It was the lowest yearly growth rate since February 2010. Little changed in the number of hours worked in the past 12 months.
Among youths aged 15-24, employment declined by 44,000. However, their unemployment rate was not affected much and stood at 13.4% as fewer youths participated in the labour market.
In age group 25-54, employment declined by 26,000, mostly among women. The unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 6.1%.
Employment increased by 60,000 among people aged 55 and over, bringing their unemployment rate down 0.4 percentage points to 5.8%.
In Ontario, employment fell by 34,000, raising the unemployment rate for the province by 0.2 percentage points to 7.5%. In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment fell by 2,900 in June. It increased by 3,800 in Manitoba and by 2,700 in New Brunswick.
From the second quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2014, employment in Yukon was little changed and the unemployment rate fell from 5.3% to 4.3%. During the same period, employment in the Northwest Territories declined by 1,500 and the unemployment rate increased from 7.3% to 9.6%. In Nunavut, employment was little changed and the unemployment rate was also unchanged at 13.6%.
Employment declined in business, building and other support services by 27,000 in June, but was little changed on a year-over-year basis. There were 15,000 fewer people working in agriculture in June.
The number of construction workers rose by 32,000 and by 21,000 in ‘other services,’ such as civic and social organizations and private household services.
There was minimal change in the number of private and public sector employees as well as the self-employed. All growth was seen among private sector employees.
After adjusting to the concepts used in the United States, the unemployment rate in Canada was 6.1%, the same as the rate in the US. The employment rate in Canada in June (adjusted to US concepts) was 62.0%, compared with 59.0% in the United States.
Recently, the New York Times reported that the median income in Canada had surpassed the median income in the United States, based on over three decades of international income surveys analysed by LIS (a research group) and by The Upshot.
That analysis showed that despite having a higher median income as recently as 2000, the median income in the United States has now become lesser than the median income of several other countries including Canada. The data also showed that lower-income families in Canada and a majority of northern European countries earn more than their American counterparts do.
Despite having replaced the American middle class as being the world’s richest middle class recently, the Canadian middle class still has its fair share of anxieties. While many members of the Canadian middle class accepted the fact that they were better off comparatively than their American counterparts were, some of their major worries revolved around inequality, housing costs and everyday expenses for transportation and mobile phone plans.
Another thing that worried many members of the middle class in Canada was the thought of whether they would be able to afford college for their children and whether their children would be able to find good jobs thereafter.
The New York Times interviewed several members of the middle class to check how the above-mentioned trends of median middle class incomes globally, affected them. Most expressed their inability to compare their experiences with their American counterparts.
However, several members of the Canadian middle class accepted that they faced lesser financial stress about medical expenses than Americans did. Canadians also accepted that the American versions of the housing bubble and bust were more severe for the Americans than they were for them.
Some of the factors responsible for this extend beyond the obvious economic issues like housing and education, where young Canadian adults are more educated than their American counterparts are. Cultural differences also play a part in affecting the living standards. For example, while 80 percent of Canadian children live with two parents, only 68 percent of American children live with two parents.
However, Canadians are also aware that the American rich still have a massive lead over the Canadian rich. Despite this though, many members of the Canadian middle class preferred their experiences as Canadians. In the words of one of the people interviewed by the New York Times, “I think people in the U.S. seem to struggle more.”
Source: The New York Times