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Feds announce $1.7B to help resource sector

Last Updated Apr 17, 2020 at 9:36 am PDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The feds are going to spend $1.7-billion to help clean up 'orphaned wells'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the effort to clean up inactive wells is expected to employ thousands of workers

The government is also creating a $750-million fund to cut methane emissions

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the government will support work in the oil and gas sector by providing funding to help clean up “orphaned wells,” including in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The federal government will spend $1.7-billion on the effort, which is expected to employ thousands of workers, Trudeau said on Friday.

“Right now, workers and families are struggling because of things beyond their control,” he said. “Both the devastating effects of the pandemic and the price war driven by foreign interests are a challenge. As a result, companies have had to slow down or pause their operations, leaving too many people out of work.”

He noted the move will benefit the environment, as well as the health of Canadians.

The inactive wells, Trudeau added, can be detrimental to both. “Think of the farmer who can’t grow anything on his land because of an abandoned well a few steps away from his home. Think of the small town or Indigenous community struggling with this issue that has been festering for years or even decades.”

Cleanup efforts are expected to start employing people immediately, the prime minister said, all while “helping companies avoid bankruptcy, and supporting our environmental targets.”

The government announced the investment will help maintain 5,200 jobs in Alberta alone.

A $750-million fund to cut methane emissions is also being set up.

“To create and maintain jobs through pollution-reduction efforts,” Trudeau explained. “This includes $75-million to help the offshore industry cut emissions in Newfoundland and Labrador. This fund will primarily provide repayable contributions to firms to make them more competitive, reduce waste and pollution, and most importantly protect jobs.”

The government estimates both initiatives will help maintain about 10,000 jobs nationally.

Meanwhile, Trudeau also announced more help for small businesses and their employees, saying the government would be providing regional development agencies as well as the Community Futures Network $962-million.

The funding will help businesses that don’t qualify for already-announced emergency response benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau said, adding $270-million would be given to support innovators and startups that aren’t eligible for wage subsidy programs.

-With files from Dean Recksiedler