Refining adds stability


Upgrading and refining adds jobs and stability to the often cyclical energy sector, a recent panel on the sector co-hosted by Unifor heard.

“Energy can be an incredible driver of jobs and prosperity, but only if we are strategic and deliberate in maximizing the spin-off linkages from energy production into the supply, machinery, service, refining, and manufacturing industries,” said Unifor Economist Jim Stanford, one of the panellists.

Unifor co-hosted the April 22 panel in Edmonton with the Parkland Institute, as well as a similar event in Sarnia May 5. Both sessions looked at opportunities for creating more jobs in energy-related industries by promoting more domestic content at all stages of the energy value chain.

Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan, who has been at the forefront over the years of promoting value-added industries in the sector, said every refining or upgrading job adds another 4.5 jobs in the wider community. As well, the Unifor activist said, such jobs are much less prone to layoffs.

Parkland Institute Executive Director Ricardo Acuña, another panelist, said that while traditionally most of Alberta’s bitumen has been refined in the province, the percentage will soon be less than half.

“It is critical … that Albertans have these conversations to ensure that the development of our energy resources is done in our long-term interest.”