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CALGARY, A.B. — Recruitment firm Hays Canada says about one third of oil and gas industry employers are expecting another tough year in 2017 after 65 per cent of them were forced to cut staff this year.

The annual survey finds that 28 per cent of energy sector employers expect to hire fewer people in 2017 than in 2016, while 15 per cent expect some growth and about half predict stability.

Hays says many companies believe recovery in the energy sector will be made more difficult by skilled oilfield workers leaving Alberta to move to other provinces, with the biggest competition for labour from British Columbia and Ontario.

The annual survey of 4,000 employers and employees across Canada found that business growth expectations throughout the country in all industries are slightly higher than a year ago but about half of employers don’t plan to increase salaries or add staff.

In a separate report, AltaCorp Capital Inc. says Alberta energy companies are opting to cut staff, not wages, as they struggle to rein in costs in view of lower commodity prices.

It says Alberta oil and gas companies have cut about 29 per cent of their staff over the past two years but remaining resource sector workers are still bringing in about $2,300 per week, up nearly 25 per cent from five years ago.

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