The Devastating Impact.
6. Unemployment Rate
In February of this year, Calgary once again reclaimed the title of Highest Canadian Metropolitan Unemployment, reaching 7.6%, edging out St. John’s, Nfld where the rate remained a steady 7.4%.
It spent most of 2016 and part of 2017 on top of this list before it got a reprieve, but it would top the list again early in 2019. The unemployment rate in Calgary rose and fell in a gentle slope on a line chart. It covers the period of time that most people would have been eligible for unemployment benefits. The fact that the rate fell by no means that those unemployed found work, it only means that their benefits have run out and they are no longer technically “unemployed” for statistical purposes.
By all accounts there are over 200,000 unemployed in Alberta at this moment. Many of them worked in or relied on the energy industry for employment. Based on anecdotal evidence there is a very large population of unemployed geologists and land men in Alberta right now. These were good paying professional jobs, and now many of these geologists have no more savings, the unemployment ran out years ago, had to sell their homes and vehicles, and are now on the verge of economic ruin. Men who previously made $100,000 a year are now begging to flip burgers for $15/hr.
Many energy companies now no longer operate in Alberta due to the fact that it is no longer feasible for them to do so. Policies put in place by the provincial and federal governments have scared off investment in Alberta, leading to the increase in unemployment in the energy sector.
Between 2014 and 2018 the number of personal bankruptcies and consumer proposals in Alberta jumped an incredible 76%, going from 8,281 in 2014 to 14, 555 in 2018. Comparatively, the national rate rose by a mere 5.8%.
Alberta business bankruptcies during the same period rose by 46% going from 141 in 2014 to 206 in 2018, while nationally the amount actually decreased by 15% going from 4,219 in 2014 to 3,580 in 2018.
8. Income Support
In Alberta, the Income Support program provides assistance to low-income individuals and families. Child and health care, subsidies, and income assistance are among the services available. Households are categorized according to group: Single, Single with One or More Children, Couples, and Couples with One or More Children.
These are then further categorized by;Expected to Work(ETW):Unemployed and Able to Work, Unemployed and Unable to Work (ie. due to Illness, caring for family, etc.) and, Barriers to Full Employment(BFE) in which recipients are unable to work due to chronic long-term illness. The amount of benefits available depends upon marital status, number of dependants (if any), and, level of ability to work.
Starting in the year 2014, I measured the number of households receiving income support benefits in the month of July, until the current year where I measured the month of January.
A massive increase.
In July of 2014 there were a total of 33,522 households receiving assistance. By January of this year that number had nearly doubled to 59,940.
The number of people who were not working but were available to work skyrocketed from 5,820 in 2014 to 21,745 in 2019, more than three times what it was four and a half years before. Those unavailable to work rose by 50% going from 7,979 in 2014 to 12, 338 in 2019.
The segment of the population hardest hit has been single people. In 2014, of the 33, 522 households on benefits, 22, 037 were single individuals or 66%. In January they accounted for 69% of the 59,940 households collecting benefits. This would be an increase of 79% over 2014.
During periods of economic instability, crime rates tend to increase. This is no more evident than in Calgary, where crime rates soared in 2015 following the collapse in oil prices. In the years that followed, although the rates have stabilized, they remain high and show no signs that they will be coming down.
Crimes across virtually every category rose sharply in 2015. Naturally there were significant increases in “the usual suspects”, Property Crimes, Theft, Robbery, and Domestic Violence. There has also been an alarming increase in the number of violent crimes as well, especially in the number of assaults. There has also been a disturbing increase in the number of assaults on police officers.
They are categorized as 1) Social Disorder, 2) Property Crime (Theft, B&E, Robbery, Vehicle Theft, Fraud) and, 3) Person Crime (Assault, Domestic Assault, and Sex Offenses.
I will be providing more details in another post addressing Calgary crime statistics.
9.1 Social Disorder 2014 – 2018
Social Disorder calls are the ones police respond to the most in a typical day. They include such things as: Drunk, Disturbance, Indecent Act, Juvenile Complaint, Landlord/tenant, Mental health concern, Neighbor dispute, Party complaint, Prowler, Suspicious person, Threats, Drugs, Noise complaint, Possible gunshots, Unwanted guest/patron, Prostitution, Speeder, Suspicious Auto (grouped as Social Disorder), Fire, Property damage and Abandoned auto (grouped as Physical Disorder).
Defying my expectations, the number of Social Disorder calls fell for the first time in nearly five years. It wasn’t alot, roughly one percent, but at least it is moving in the right direction. Among the complaints seeing the most significant deceases year over year were:
- Disturbance – 348 (8.8%)
- Drugs -104 (13.2%)
- Intoxicated Persons -128 (13.7%)
- Landlord/Tenant Issue -70 (7.6%)
- Noise Complaint -115 (9.3%)
- Party Complaint -56 (13.2%)
- Speeder -33 (13.2%)
- Suspicious Vehicle -412 (10.8%)
- TOTAL SOCIAL DISORDER: -910 (1%)
9.2 Property Crimes: B&E, Theft, Vehicle Theft 2014-18
There was a large spike in property crimes in 2015 as unemployment began to rise. The increase in drug use, especially crystal meth, has contributed to them remaining at high levels, placing further strain on police resources.
Between 2014 and 2018: Break & Enters rose 68.7% (3,994), Thefts increased 50% (9,903), and Vehicle thefts were up by 44.5% (2,131).
9.3 Person Crimes: Robbery, Assaults, and Sex Offenses 2014-18
Crimes against people didn’t see the dramatic increases in 2015 as property crimes did. There has however been a steady increase in the number of these crimes, especially the number of assaults and sex offenses.
Between 2014 and 2018 the total number of Assaults rose by 51% (3,037) while Sex Offenses were up by 63% (490). Among assaults, the number of assaults against police is seeing a dramatic increase, up 79% (150).
In 2018 Sex Offenses were up by a dramatic 63% over 2014 (+490).
Sadly, the spike in the number of suicides in Alberta in 2015 was also to be expected, as the number of people who took their own lives rose by 22% over the previous year. The biggest increases occurred in 5 age groups: 25-29, 40-44, 45-49, 55-59, and 65-69.
A similar statistic is seen in Saskatchewan at the same time. Information from the Government of Saskatchewan shows that suicides rose by 27% in 2015 over 2014. Most significantly, the number of men rose by 43% year over year. This trend was not seen on other provinces, however there were other trends evident in other provinces, and at different times.
The suicide rate in Alberta, and likely everywhere else, is not a true representation of the number of suicides. I can say this with certainty because recently somebody I knew committed suicide, and their death was ruled an overdose. Had a complete death investigation done I’m confident the correct determination would have been made, but such investigations cost money and often aren’t done. Many suicide deaths are wrongly attributed to overdose, accident, or misadventure.
The human impact of the economic crisis in Alberta has been immense. With over 200,000 unemployed, many for an extended duration, it is critical that steps be taken immediately to create an environment that will attract investment
Although Jason Kenney will do what he can to salvage the Alberta economy and get it moving forward again, the biggest impediment to a Alberta’s success is and will always be lack of pipeline access to a deep-water port. By opening up these markets, Alberta will ensure that it, and Canada, will receive the maximum benefit from Alberta’s resources.
Alberta’s fate is being left up to others to determine, and this has proven to be as disastrous in the past as it is now. The only way to end this is to either make some serious changes to the equaliztion formula (highly unlikely), or for Alberta to separate and control its own destiny (the best option).
The people of Alberta deserve better.