Alex Stone has worked as a heavy equipment operator at the Sheerness coal mine south of Hanna for a decade.
His brother also works there. So does his father.
As the province moves to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2030, workers like Stone face a precarious employment future.
Almost 2,000 people work today at coal generating stations and associated mines across Alberta, in communities such as Hanna, Wabamun and Forestburg.
Within 13 years, the provincial government expects more than half of those workers — 1,100 to 1,200 people — will be laid off, meaning there’s a chance the 29-year-old Stone will lose his job.
Born and raised in Hanna, Stone’s family, friends and girlfriend live in the town of 2,600 people in east-central Alberta, where he also has a house.
“You don’t want to leave, but it kind of forces a guy to think about the possibility that you have to leave. I’ve got ties here,” he said.
“Getting a job here in a small community, you’re a hometown kid, you would like to stay.”
The loss of jobs in the sector — along with the fallout for Alberta communities powered by coal — has become one of the biggest tests facing the Notley government since it unveiled its climate change plan in 2015.
For almost two years, affected workers and civic leaders have been waiting for a master plan to deal with the upheaval as the province phases out coal-fired electricity to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce its impact on Albertans’ health.
The province released its strategy Friday after receiving 35 recommendations from an advisory panel it set up to examine the issue.
Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous and Labour Minister Christina Gray unveiled a $40-million assistance program — financed with money from the new carbon tax — to assist workers.
It wants to bolster Employment Insurance …read more
Source:: Calgary Herald