Fort McMurray, Alberta (March 20, 2018)

Rotational work and residential employment programs are complementary approaches in workforce management, according to a new report by the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA).

Over the past decade, rotational workers have grown in number in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area (AOSA) due to industry’s major expansion in the early to mid-2000s. The Rotational Workforce in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area report seeks to understand the size and nature of the rotational workforce as well as examine the impacts of this workforce on the region.

Rotational work is not new to Alberta or other provinces within Canada. Given the location, nature and magnitude of oil sands development, rotational workers have been, and remain, a constant feature of oil sands activity in northern Alberta. While oil sands companies remain committed to hiring locally and developing the regional labour force, there are several reasons why rotational workers are used in operations; including remote location of projects, safety, quality of life, performance, time and cost efficiencies.

“Rotational and local workforces are both necessary and can co-exist,” said Karim Zariffa, OSCA Executive Director. “Oil sands operators have been successful in attracting workers and their families to the region for decades, but fly-in, fly-out remains the preferred option for many individuals. Every oil sands worker has unique circumstances defining how they choose to live, and nobody can dictate those choices.”

Findings of the report include:

  • The operations-related rotational workforce is overwhelmingly male (85%); mostly married (71%) and nearly half are over the age of 44 (47%).
  •  Currently, 15 oil sands projects utilize FIFO for their operations, representing roughly 60 per cent of total oil sands production capacity in the region.
  • While a few smaller projects are within commuting distance of Fort McMurray, the majority are remote, located beyond a sustainable daily commuting distance for shift workers. One-way door-to-door travel times range between 90 minutes to three hours.
  • Eleven of the 15 oil sands projects utilize seven private aerodromes. In addition to private aerodromes, substantial FIFO activity utilizes the Fort McMurray International Airport (YYM). A 2017 survey states that 40 per cent of passenger movements through YYM were rotational workers.
  • Operations-related rotational workers spent between $82 and $91 million in Fort McMurray in 2017. This spending translates to $33 to $36 million in local gross domestic product and an additional $20 to $22 million to the rest of the province ($53 to $58 million in total).

“Rotational work is not an either/or decision,” Zariffa said. “Providing choice to workers leads to increased job satisfaction, and improved retention and productivity.”

The Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA) pursues innovative solutions to build thriving communities and enable the responsible growth of Canada’s oil sands. We use a collaborative approach to facilitate engagement among stakeholders including municipalities, government and industry. Collaboration builds relationships and creates opportunities for dialogue, information exchange and shared success.

Link to full reports: http://www.oscaalberta.ca/publications/

For additional information contact:

Shafak Sajid – Policy Analyst

Phone: 403-988-2619| Email: shafak.sajid@oscaalberta.ca