Sara Wheale has seen the struggles of Canada’s oil and gas industry first hand. Now the 22-year-old heavy oil field equipment operator from Breton, Alta will help to advise the government on national issues affecting the economy. Wheale beat out 16,000 applicants across the country to join 25 others on Justin Trudeau’s Youth Council.
While she will help advise the Prime Minister on issues dealing with carbon tax and the oil sands, Wheale disagrees with some of the Liberals’ policies, including their move toward a national carbon tax.
“Right now with the way the economy is, it puts another barrier on us,” she told BNN in an interview. “I think there’s a time and place for something like that, and right now isn’t the best time. We need to be able to have investors come into the country. And putting a price on carbon…is another barrier we can’t afford now.”
Wheale already raises awareness through an organization she created that focuses on agricultural issues. Her new role on Trudeau’s Council will involve creating advisory reports to discuss with the Prime Minister and other committees across the country. She sees getting oil to tide water and stimulating the economy as priorities for the country.
Wheale also thinks there needs to be a better understanding of the oil and gas industry across the country – and that re-stimulating the economy is probably one Canada’s biggest struggles.
“Right now it’s very tough. There’s not a lot going on,” she said of the lack of employment opportunity for young people in Alberta. “To get into it right now is very hard. Lots of places want years of experience, so that does make it a lot more difficult to get another job or to just find work in general.”
Despite the struggles within the oil and gas industry, Wheale said she has stuck with it because it’s an industry she knows well.
“I love the industry,” she said. “I think as long as you’re willing to learn and to adapt to what’s going on in the industry, there's no problems.”