Attacks on the Oil & Gas Industry Only Hurt Canadian & Indigenous Families

Attacks on Canadian Oil and Gas Only Hurts Canadian and Indigenous Families cover

Bill C-372, the private members’ bill introduced in February 2024 to “prohibit a person from promoting fossil fuels,” is just one of many attacks against Canada’s world-class oil and gas industry over the past several years. It is incredible that even now, with falling productivity and investment, high inflation levels, and poor performance on several economic indicators, some people want to shut down the backbone of the Canadian economy.

How about recognizing what the oil and natural gas sector does for Canadian and Indigenous families for a change instead of constantly demonizing it?

Oil and Gas Revenues

Without going into statistics, it is a well-known fact that energy-producing provinces of the West contribute significantly to equalization payments, which are then redistributed to less fiscally capable provinces, mainly in the East. These payments are largely generated by federal taxes.

Meanwhile, the oil and gas sector generates government revenues in many ways, such as:

  1. Crown lease payments
  2. Indirect taxes
  3. Personal income taxes
  4. Corporate income taxes
  5. Royalties

These funds are allocated to different infrastructure projects and social programs as needed.

Regardless of your political preference, religion, sexuality, or race, we can all appreciate the significant revenues generated by the oil and gas sector – estimated to be $1.1 trillion from 2000 to 2032 – which help us pay for such things as hospitals, fire halls, schools, parks, roads, and so much more.

Our relatively high quality of life as Canadians is largely credited to our infrastructure and social programs. Thankfully, the natural resource sectors will continue to underpin both through various royalties and taxes - something that all Canadians should support.

Working for a Living

Many people like myself, an Indigenous female, have sought employment in the natural resource industries. Thankfully, Canada has abundant natural resources, and we are provided with great opportunities for long-term and well-paying careers in these sectors.

Canada is a multicultural country, and many people immigrate here to have a better quality of life and be accepted. For a lot of newcomers, that means working in the natural resource industries. I’ve worked in the oil sands for over a decade and have seen an increasing diversity of people enter the workforce. So many people hear of good-paying jobs from online sources. This too is the reason so many Indigenous seek opportunities within the resource sector.

As technology advances, we are no longer stuck to word of mouth to get messages out to one another. When a company is not a good employer to work for, we hear of that too. Luckily, being able to sort out fact versus fiction is not hard to find in this day and age, thanks to advertisements on the internet.

But what if all this was illegal? How would we inform ourselves about new work opportunities and what organizations are the best employers?

We Can Make Our Own Choices

Sharing knowledge, ideas, and experiences with oil and natural gas development via advertising has enabled Indigenous people in often remote communities to benefit in ways in which they have not before. If they choose to develop the resources on their lands and promote these projects in advertisements through various mediums, then they should have the right to do so -- should they not?

What if Bill C-372 was instead “a ban on misleading and deceptive ads,” period? This would include a ban on the hyper-polarizing, anti-Canadian energy rhetoric we often hear in campaigns by non-governmental organizations that do not want to balance economic and environmental concerns.

Bill C-372 limits information sharing, and that should make all Canadians pay attention. We can form our own opinions on what is misleading and what isn’t. Prohibiting the promotion of fossil fuels when Indigenous communities are becoming inclusive business partners to large energy projects will limit our growth and the Canadian economy. What’s the sense in that?

About the Author

Estella Petersen snip

Estella Petersen is a heavy machinery operator in the oil sands out of Fort McMurray. Estella is from the Cowessess Reserve and is passionate about Canada and supporting Canadian natural resources.