I never thought I’d live to see the day when any court in Canada would rule against expansion of the oil industry. Does this hurt our economy? Yes. I just don’t feel that we should sacrifice our air, water, well-being, or a good nights’ sleep just to keep the economy happy. The economy isn’t a person. It doesn’t have feelings. It’s meant to be a gauge of societal health, but it is not the sole indicator. We here in oil-rich Alberta have treated the economy like a never-pleased father figure. We give up our soul by bits and still don’t warrant whole-hearted approval.
Mental health concerns in Alberta have risen to dramatic rates in the last two decades. Oilfield and oilfield-related industries have displayed poor working conditions and decreasing job security causing stress upon stress for its workers. Long working hours, changing shift schedules, and decreased family involvement have put a strain on our health care leaving the population in the poverty of poor health. We may indeed be able to afford those SUVs but we can’t remember why we agreed to such a high price.
This lack of health has reflected in our societal attitudes towards each other. I was shocked when a friend related a story of a women she knew who worked in an oilfield office. This woman was having some interpersonal conflicts with a coworker. Her supervisor essentially told her to fit in or “f” off. In our world with its “get ‘er done” mentality, we don’t spend a lot of time, caring, or sympathy on each other or ourselves. Our lives are sadder for it.
Is this the economy we’re outraged at losing? This pursuit of the Alberta dream, where every laid-off oilfield worker introduces themself with the dollar amount of their former income, has turned us into people with a very mixed up value system. Since when don’t we want green grass for our kids to run on? Clean water does taste good. Kindness is understood by everyone. Our lives are short and we should spend as much of our time here being joyful and healthy. Joy and good health may not be understood in economic science, but it is certainly understood by human beings.
Keri lives and contemplates current events in Boyle Street.