Hang in there Alberta

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During the past few months there’s been a huge focus on mental health given the circumstances.
Canadians are facing perhaps the greatest challenge of their lives as they try to survive the devastating effects of a pandemic and economic downturn all the while fearing for the health of friends and loved ones.
We have emerged from a lock down of several weeks and are now trying return to some semblance of normalcy by opening up the economy and even returning children to school.
But the persistence of the virus looms large in all we try to do and the high numbers of new infections we are seeing worldwide can have a very serious effect on our psyche.
Many are experiencing a sense of hopelessness which will remain until a vaccine is found.
Albertans are under more pressure than the rest of the country given that there appears to be a clear effort to dismantle the oil and gas industry, a sector that has provided billions to the rest of the country and has been the lifelong supporter of thousands and thousands of people.
While there is a serious effort to kick start the economy across the country and of course elsewhere, Albertans are wondering if it is all worth it when their number one industry is under fire.
And this is especially so when there have been great strides in lowering emissions at all levels of production and end-use. And there are more plans to lessen our carbon footprint even more.
A poll released last week by the Angus Reid Institute found that 25 per cent of Canadians expect to be better off financially a year from now while 20 per cent said they will be worse. Thirty-five per cent of Canadians said their economic fortunes have diminished in the past year.
In Alberta, however, that figure stood at 51 per cent.
It is no wonder, then, that Albertans are the most pessimistic about next year. The poll found that 30 per cent of Albertans think they will be worse off in 2021.
There is a marked correlation between those feelings and the price of oil; Albertans are sure now that there is no quick fix.
The price bottomed out this spring, even heading into negative territory and after a brief jump this summer has settled back down with a 12 per cent drop in benchmark oil prices the past week.
Of course there can be no real recovery in oil prices as long as demand is seriously low. There is no realistic way prices will rise as long as travel restrictions and the fear of contracting Covid-19 remain.
While monetary supports from the federal government have reduced the impacts on individuals and businesses, there is now the question of what will happen when the supports end, especially if there is a serious second wave of the pandemic.
This all said, we cannot lose sight of the fact that several economic indicators such as home and retail sales are showing signs of improvement. Alberta’s unemployment rate is also down some four points from a high of 15.5 per cent in May.
There are indeed positive signs that the economy is improving but it is sinking in that it is going to be at a much slower pace than we first thought.
It is unfortunate that Albertans are feeling the brunt of the pressures brought on by the recession, pandemic and a seemingly uncaring federal government.
But we are resilient. And we can’t forget that most of our forbears fought through many serious hardships and yet led a fruitful and happy life.
We just have to hang in there.