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Kenney says he hopes to see federal energy aid package 'this week'
OTTAWA -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the federal government is coming through with an energy aid package for the wounded sector, and that he hopes it will be announced this week.
Kenney was asked Tuesday on CTV Power Play when he's expecting the federal government to announce help for the energy sector.
"They’ve been telling us 'within days' for the last couple of weeks, but I get it. They're super busy, as are we, with multiple urgent files. We hope to see something this week," he replied.
The price of oil hit an 18-year low Tuesday amid the drop in demand the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in, with the benchmark price dropping below US$20 on Tuesday. Western Canada Select also fell, down to US$3.82 per barrel.
The plunging oil price is a painful blow for the already struggling oil and gas sector, which has seen many Canadians — particularly in Alberta — lose their jobs.
In January, Edmonton's unemployment rate rose to 8.2 per cent, making it the second-highest of any Canadian city. Calgary had the sixth-highest unemployment rate, at 7.2 per cent.
The economic situation in the province, which is deeply tied to the oil and gas sector, has led to bubbling tensions between Alberta and the federal government, with some residents calling for the province to increase its independence within the federation.
The impact that COVID-19 is having on the energy sector hasn't come as a surprise to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who projected in February that oil and gas would be hit hard by the pandemic.
"We know the [economic] impact is real, it's going to be felt across the country – but perhaps even more so here in the oil and gas sector," Morneau told Economic Club of Canada in Calgary on Feb. 10.
Morneau hinted at the energy aid package on Monday, when he said the government would have more to say on help for the hospitality, airline and energy sectors "in the very near term."
With files from CTV's Rachel Aiello.