On Friday’s agenda for the First Ministers’ Meeting among Canadian Premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are economic topics of job creation, trade diversification, and competitiveness. When the initial draft of the agenda did not include discussion for the energy industry, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister, stating, “Our country is losing $80 million dollars a day because we cannot get tide water access and world prices for Alberta's oil and gas. As proposed, the meeting agenda does not include any discussion on the crisis facing the energy industry and the price differential that is crippling the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Canadian economies. We request that Energy Market Access and the Economic Impacts of the Price Differential be added as an agenda item for discussion this week.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that there will be discussion about the price differential within the context of other planned topics, however, they did not commit to discussing the oil price plunge outside of those contexts. Other expected topics at the meeting, which also includes Indigenous leaders, are the new version of NAFTA, trade between provinces and territories, and a push for increased interconnectedness in the Canadian economy.
After Canadian crude dropped as low as USD $14 a barrel in November, Premier Notley announced Alberta will cut back oil production by 8.7 percent starting in January and plans to purchase rail cars despite the federal government being unresponsive to requests to help fund the purchase.
Tensions are boiling over in Alberta, which has been feeling the economic and social strain of the prolonged recession since 2014 due to low prices and lack of access to tidewater. Prime Minister Trudeau and several federal ministers that recently visited the province have been greeted by thousands of pro-energy demonstrations.
Premier Moe said any cut in Saskatchewan’s production will hurt conventional oil production and would have little impact on the price of oil and demanded Ottawa get serious about stalled and cancelled pipeline projects. “A clear failure of the federal government to build pipelines and ensure market access for our energy products has had a great cost on the economy and the people of Saskatchewan," he said.