Image: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Thursday, April 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
It was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the Canadian government will fund $1.7 billion to clean up orphan wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
“These wells, which are no longer in use, can be detrimental, not only to our environment but to people’s health,” Trudeau said.
“Cleaning them up will bring people back to work and help many land owners who have had their wells on their property for years but haven’t been able to get them taken care of and the land restored.”
Rural Small Business Assistance
In the same address, Trudeau also announced aid for rural businesses and people working in the arts and culture sectors.
“Our goal is to create immediate jobs in these provinces while helping companies avoid bankruptcy, and supporting our environmental targets,” he said.
$962 million will be allocated for regional development agencies to help the smaller employers in rural areas; $270 million for a program for entrepreneurial and industrial research and another $500 million to support Canadians who work in the arts, culture and sports sectors.
It was previously announced, through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program that the federal government will back loans of up to $40,000 for businesses that have a payroll between $20,000 and $1.5 million a year. Up to $10,000 of the interest-free loan is non-repayable.
Premier Kenney called this a welcome step
“How we come through this economic crisis will depend in large part on the survival and the successful recovery of our country’s largest industry – the energy sector – on which some 800,000 Canadian jobs depend. We thank the federal government for taking this important first step to support the folks who work in our energy sector,” said Kenney in a written statement.
“The $1 billion partnership to address inactive wells aligns with Alberta’s commitment to ensuring our resources are developed in an environmentally sustainable fashion.
“This funding will immediately save or create thousands of jobs, keeping energy service companies going during these devastating times. It will also help us bring sites back to their original condition, leaving a cleaner environment for future generations.
“The $200 million loan to the Orphan Well Association will also help these efforts, demonstrating our commitment to producing Canadian energy under the world’s highest environmental standards.”
Kenney said more support will be needed to deal with Canada’s energy sector crisis.
“Our energy sector is facing its biggest challenge ever, and we need to be sure that industry can access the capital it needs to survive and thrive in future years. When the auto sector and the banks were threatened during the global financial crisis a decade ago, the economic strength of Alberta, powered by the energy industry, ensured that Canada was able to provide the urgent support they needed.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to ensure that the energy sector now gets the support it needs as it faces its own threats from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saudi-Russia price war.
“We are grateful for this job-creating initiative, and we will continue to work with the federal government until the energy sector has what it needs to survive and thrive for the benefit of all Canadians.”
*Updated at 3:08pm with comments from Premier Jason Kenney.