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covid19 stories

Calgarians under record levels of stress as unemployment rises

Levels are expected to rise due to the coronavirus pandemic and the plunge in oil prices which have devastated Alberta’s economy.

A new University of Calgary study is indicating that stress levels for Calgarians have hit record highs

The survey which included 30,000 people and employed statistics from the Calgary Counselling Centre showed that lower employment levels and stress are interlinked. 

By 2019, Calgary stress levels had spiked to 80%, well above the global average of 72%.

“Seventy is like, ‘Okay, we can live with that,’ but when it gets up to 80, it’s really high. That can really lead to suicide, domestic violence — it’s a growth industry, unfortunately,” said University of Calgary Economics Professor Ron Kneebone. 

According to the CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, those levels are sure to rise due to the coronavirus pandemic and the plunge in oil prices which have devastated Alberta’s economy. 

“The stress is really higher than we’ve seen before; things like depression, anxiety, relationships, how they’re doing at school. With COVID-19, maybe not at first, but I expect it’ll climb as unemployment increases — this is one of the factors that will create more demand for agencies like mine,” said Babins-Wagner.

Statistics Canada figures from March indicate that unemployment in the city rose up to 8.6% after 17,000 people lost their jobs. 

“We need to understand this is just the beginning. I anticipate much more challenging figures at the end of April heading into the spring,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. 

Business Council of Alberta Chief Economist Mike Holden claims that those numbers don’t reflect the reality and that the real unemployment rate is several orders higher than reported. 

“A reported unemployment rate of 8.7 per cent seriously underestimates the reality in Alberta because the labour force survey took place just as the economy was shutting down. Based on all the data we’ve seen this week, our estimates indicate the true unemployment rate in Alberta today is likely three times that – a staggering 27 per cent, Holden told CTV News. 

Last month True North released an exclusive documentary exploring unemployment and other issues plaguing Calgary. You can watch the film by visiting Calgary in Crisis.

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