The Prime Minister’s Office says it has added a discussion on the oil and gas industry at Friday’s first ministers meeting, after criticism from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
The PMO said late Wednesday it will “include a discussion on the oil and gas industry in Canada and the impact of struggling oil prices on Canada’s energy sector and energy workers.”
An earlier copy of the meeting agenda given to CTV News by one of the provinces had made no mention of “oil” or “gas.”
The agenda provides a detailed breakdown of what each minister intends to discuss with the premiers during the six hours of meetings scheduled for this Friday. The topics include competitiveness, “clean energy initiatives” and increased economic collaboration.
Earlier Wednesday, the PMO had told CTV News that the oil price differential and what Notley and Moe are calling a “crisis” facing the industry “were always going to be on the agenda” – even if they were not specifically mentioned in the agenda.
But the premiers had asked to see “Energy Market Access and the Economic Impacts of the Price Differential” added as a full agenda item.
Alberta has been struggling with the plummeting price of oil, which fell as low as US$14 a barrel in early November.
In response to the issue, Alberta has pledged to cut production by 8.7 per cent starting January. The province will also purchase rail cars to help Canadian crude reach other markets.
While the federal government hasn’t signed on to Alberta’s request that it help with the rail car purchase, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi has asked the National Energy Board to evaluate whether Canada’s pipelines are being used to their full capacity.
He did not give a concrete deadline for the study.
In the meantime, the federal government can expect a tense meeting on Friday as premiers gather to air their grievances and chart a path forward. Multiple provinces are unhappy about the federally imposed carbon tax -- and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, and Interprovincial Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc will all be at the table on Friday to face the music.
Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton is also scheduled to make an appearance.