Layoff notices up in 2015 in Alberta

Feb 17, 2015

By law, Alberta employers planning group terminations of 50 or more workers must give the labour ministry advance notice of their intentions.

The rule allows government to help arrange supports for laid-off workers — applying for employment insurance, updating resumes, conducting job searches and exploring retraining options.

In the first six weeks of this year, companies have filed those ministerial notices at a furious pace.

Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 10, 18 Alberta employers disclosed plans to terminate a total of 4,544 workers.

That number, which includes 1,962 employees of retailer Target Canada, is nearly nine times higher than in the same period of 2014, when six employers told the government of 523 coming layoffs.

Alberta’s labour market is seeing an unusual mix of hirings and firings in 2015.

Statistics Canada figures show the province gained 13,700 jobs in January, but lost 1,000 in the natural resources sector (it includes oil and gas, mining and forestry) and another 3,700 in the “professional, scientific and technical” jobs category, which includes geologists and engineers working in the energy sector.

Job cuts, meanwhile, are becoming more and more common. Most have been in the energy sector, linked to the dramatic downturn in oil prices since last summer. Oilsands producers, drilling companies and supply-chain businesses — from work camps to manufacturing plants — have laid off thousands of staffers and contract workers.

Other sectors haven’t been immune.

All Target employees in Alberta will lose their jobs when the U.S. retailer ends its failed Canadian experiment by May. Shaw Communications announced last week it will close its Alberta call centres — 390 jobs will be cut in Edmonton and 1,000 more in Calgary.

Economists predict Alberta’s low unemployment rate will rise this year — from 4.5 per cent in January to around six per cent, or higher.

“There’s no question we are going into a labour market downturn,” said ATB chief economist Todd Hirsch, who isn’t ruling out a recession.


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