The government of Alberta recently released it’s 2017 profile of the provincial oil industry. The above graph from the profile shows oil and gas workers earn significantly higher wages than other workers in AB.

Table 5 below gives us a bit more info on wages and salaries for specific jobs in the oil industry.

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Table 1 below includes some 2016 stats.

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15,000 Alberta mining, oil, and gas workers were unemployed in 2016 because of the ongoing global oil price downturn.

While the government of Alberta doesn’t control the international price of oil, the NDP did reduce the royalty rates for some oil and gas products in the royalty review last year. From the perspective of industry and government, the reason for the changes is in the last couple years Alberta’s oil sands industry has been in a fierce competition with shale oil producers in Texas because of new fracking technologies coming online.

Jack Mintz, a rightwing tax expert at the University of Calgary and member of Imperial Oil’s board of directors, wrote a report in fall 2016 that says the NDP’s royalty reductions more than compensate for the slight increase to corporate income taxes made in mid-2015. Anyone who claims the NDP is acting ideologically toward the oil industry couldn’t be more wrong.

The number of jobs in AB oil and gas has increased in the last eight months, with the rig count climbing during this time and the international oil price somewhat stabilizing in the $45-55/barrel range.

The following is encouraging news for workers.

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Statistics Canada says the mining, oil, and gas extraction industry accounted for 27.4% of our provincial economy in 2015, down a bit from the height of the boom in 2005 when oil was over $100/barrel and the industry was 29.6% of AB’s economy.

For workers it’s discouraging that the oil sands industry is moving to self-driving trucks and building smaller rig pads, but investment in wind and solar energy is starting to come into AB in a big way because of the NDP’s incentives for new private investment and because the government itself is using part of the carbon levy to fund new public transit, renewable energy, and energy efficiency programs.

The 2017 oil industry profile says the average number of hours worked per week in the industry is 44, compared to 36 hours for other AB sectors. Oil workers are more likely to regularly work overtime than workers in other sectors. Women in Alberta work a lot of unpaid hours at home, more than women in other provinces, and this is in part because most oil workers are men who spend chunks of time away from home.

In AB overall, 45.5% of our workers are women and 54.5% are men. In the mining, oil, and gas industry, the breakdown is 24.7% women and 75.3%. Alberta’s gender segregated workforce largely accounts for the province having the biggest gender income gap in Canada. The NDP introducing a Ministry for the Status of Women to Alberta is starting to help with gendered economic relations and so is the modest hike to income taxes for rich people, but we need to see much more improvement in gender relations in the province going forward.

The unionization rate in the oil industry is only 10.2%, compared to AB’s overall unionization rate of 20.8%. This overall rate is low compared to other Canadian provinces, and this is another reason AB has such massive income inequality in general and gendered income inequality in particular.

50.7% of employment in AB oil and gas is with large corporations of 100+ employees. In the provincial economy overall the rate is 39.3%. This means workers in the oil industry are negotiating with larger and more powerful corporations than is the case on average for AB workers in other sectors. More specifically, these workers are mostly negotiating with the 5 majors who combined produce 80% of AB oil (CNRL, Suncor, Cenovus, Imperial, and Husky).

Government of Alberta, 2017 Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction Industry Profile: https://work.alberta.ca/documents/industry-profile-mining-oil-and-gas-extraction.pdf