I have had the displeasure of writing more than one somber headline in the past month regarding job losses in the Elk Valley. With Finning announcing that they are closing their Sparwood facilities and Teck announcing the loss of 1000 more positions worldwide, it’s hard not to feel depressed at how this could impact the area.
And its affects are already being felt. I visited a friend at the local craft fair this weekend and she had booths at the Elkford craft fair on Thursday, the Sparwood craft fair on Friday and finally the Fernie craft fair on Saturday. She said that people in all communities are a little more reluctant to part with their cash, resulting in lower sales than normal. People are tightening up, causing a ripple effect that will penetrate other industries, not just mining in the Elk Valley.
The Elk Valley isn’t the only area feeling this. The once-booming oil metropolis of Fort McMurray may be the hardest hit, as their economy is directly contingent on the health of coal prices, which have been dropping since the start of the year. A CBC report said that their local food bank has been forced to cut their rations in half in order to keep up with the demand. More families are in need of subsidies, resulting in less for everyone. Again, one industry fell on hard times, resulting in all industries feeling the impacts
Economies, like most things in nature, are cyclical, and ebb and flow at their own speed. One of my economics instructors said that most industries and economies go through seven-year cycles, and if a boom lasts longer than that, the imminent downfall will be harder on everyone. It would be easy to use a cliché to make the situation seem better – you can’t have the rain without the rainbow, or something equally as sentimental. But I have never been a fan of clichés. The current situation that many families are facing – job losses, less disposable income, stricter budgets – is a terrible situation. It’s a simple as that.
I heard Sparwood Mayor, Cal McDougall, on the radio last week, talking about how the two announcements will affect his community. He reminded people to rely on friends, neighbours and the resources in the area and I would like to echo that statement. EK Employment in Fernie is a great place to look for information on job opportunities in the area, and other resources to help gain employment.
While it may be scary and uncertain times, no one is alone in it. It’s a reality that we are all facing, and it will be better if we face it together