Most Alberta group layoffs in energy sector, government figures confirm

Apr 10, 2015

EDMONTON – Group job-loss numbers for Alberta show that 64 per cent of all large-group layoffs in the first quarter of 2015 were tied to the struggling oilpatch.

As of March 31, the ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour had received 43 group termination notices affecting 8,170 employees, spokesman Barrie Harrison said Tuesday.

That’s more than four times as many group-termination notices — and seven times as many affected employees — as in the first three months of 2014, when 10 notices affected 1,149 workers.

This year, group terminations affecting 5,254 employees “are related to the downturn in the energy sector,” Harrison said via email.

The remaining 2,916 terminations — 36 per cent — are “related to layoffs by the retail and food service sectors,” he said.

The ministry has previously said this year’s group-layoff numbers include 1,962 Alberta employees of retailer Target Canada, which is closing all of its Canadian stores.

By law, Alberta employers planning terminations of 50 or more workers at a single location within a four-week period must give the jobs minister four weeks’ written notice of their intentions.

The rule is in place so that supports can be arranged for laid-off workers — applying for employment insurance, updating resumes, conducting job searches and exploring retraining options.

It doesn’t apply to seasonal labourers or anyone employed for a definite term or task.

Group termination notices this year affected 4,266 employees in January, 1,782 in February and 2,122 in March. Fourteen notices were filed in January, 13 in February and another 16 in March.

Overall employment in Alberta fell by 14,000 in February after increasing by the same amount in January, according to Statistics Canada.

The province’s unemployment rate increased 0.8 percentage points in February to 5.3 per cent.

Statistics Canada will release its latest labour force survey numbers — for March — on Friday.

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