Canadian oil sands woes reach far-flung eastern shores

Fort McMurray

(Reuters) – Cory Troke joined the exodus west two years ago, leaving scenic but job-scarce Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, after being laid off as a machinist.

Troke, 37, headed to the Alberta oil sands, apprenticing as a pipefitter and finding 19 months of steady work, flying in for two weeks, returning home for one.

By October Troke was out of work again, and he was not alone. A downturn driven by tumbling crude prices is causing turmoil in an island economy that has grown dependent on workers commuting more than 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) west.

“I personally know 40 to 50 guys that have been laid off since October,” says Troke.

Cape Breton is another example how the 60 percent slide in oil prices since last June has rippled far and wide, affecting property markets in Alberta and North Dakota, helicopter sales in Houston, the Canadian dollar and national interest rates.

Once an industrial powerhouse fueled by now-closed coal mines and steel mills, the island has turned into an exporter of labor. Many young workers head to Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, lured by big paychecks awaiting at oil sands projects clustered around the city…

  • Ron MacDonald

    Obama probably played a major role in getting the Saudis to reduce the price of oil to screw Harper.

    • Freedom

      More like
      Saudi’s trying to save their own oil business from extinction

  • Exile1981

    Actually this is a good thing, maybe a bunch of the easterners will realize that they can’t demonize the oilsands without a major consequence to their own economy.

    • Alain

      I disagree since the ones working are not the ones demonising the oil sands. Furthermore all the workers are not easterners. My oldest son, a mechanical engineer works there and is naturally concerned about losing his job. He and many others are not easterners.

      • Exile1981

        I’m not saying loss of jobs is a good thing, I’m saying easterners loosing jobs is a good thing if it makes them rethink how the system works and who they vote for.

        I work in the patch and a lot of the easterners who I have worked with vote NDP because they know that gets them lots of free stuff. While the workers themselves are not demonizing the patch the politicians they and their families back home are voting for do.

  • This was all planned. We will not frack our own gas and Obama will take Arab and Venezuelan oil over Canadian oil and in trains, too!

  • Frances

    And the provinces these workers came from will be feeling the pinch as many of the workers are classified by CRA as having residency down East, not Alberta, so that’s where they pay income tax.