The current recession and a $6.1-billion deficit predicted for Alberta this year is affecting many, especially those in the oil industry, but some have found a silver lining in the economic gloom.
From January to November, there have been more than 18,000 layoffs Alberta-wide. At the beginning of the year, the unemployment rate was 4.5 per cent, which jumped to seven per cent in November. This has been the worst recession to hit Calgary since the mid 1980s.
“My family was hit very hard from this. First my dad, than my mother, next thing you know we are all jobless,” SAIT student Karina Lietchts said.
Lietchts’s parents were both in the oil industry, her father an engineer and her mother an analyst. When the recession hit, the Lietchts were devastated by their job losses.
“Thirty-something years always having a job and then boom, nothing. Was hard to realize,” father Jim Lietchts said.
This was the case for many employees of oil companies around Alberta.
“I had never not had a job. This was such a shock, but almost a blessing in disguise,” mother Jody Lietchts said.
The job losses took a toll, but so had the busy schedules members of the family became accustomed to in better economic times, Karina Lietchts said.
“No one was seeing each other anymore. In my mind, this recession hit us hard but helped us in the long run of things,” she said, explaining that they started to spend more time together and really became a family again.
Many in similar situations came to the same realization.
“I never saw my family, which really took a toll. I just thought it was the right thing to do at the time [to] have money, but I guess never really enjoy it,” said Jacob Greenhorn, a rig worker in northern Alberta.
“When I was laid off I thought it was the worst time ever. I thought I had lost everything. In reality, I found out just how much I needed this to reconnect with my family.
First my dad, than my mother, next thing you know we are all jobless – SAIT student Karina Lietchts
Life is tough across Alberta due to the economic downturn, but some are demonstrating that family can help ease the pain.
“This might sound weird but I’m almost glad this happened. I can get to see my kids everyday and just not stress anymore,” Greenhorn said.