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Northern mines struggle to meet local hiring requirements
Mines in the Northwest Territories “may not be meeting the employment targets set out in the socio-economic agreements they made when they opened,” Northern News Services reported on Saturday. But, the paper asked, “can they really be expected to do so?”
Hilary Jones, GM of the NWT Mine Training Society, offered an explanation. “We have to realize that when they were first negotiated the whole economy was different and the people economy was different.” She added that when BHP Billiton opened Canada’s first diamond mine, unemployment in Yellowknife was 13% and the city’s Con and Giant gold mines were closing. “So there was this wonderfully trained, available workforce,” she said. “Unless we are really going to increase our birth rate and age people very quickly, it’s an issue facing the entire industry across Canada.”
NNS added that “low educational attainment, high numbers of applicants with criminal records, rampant social problems, a high number of single parents and other obstacles, [result] in mines having a hard time finding the right local candidates.”
Jones cited a 2011 report from the Mining Industry Human Resource Council predicting that Canadian mines will need an additional 75,000 to 112,000 workers by 2021.
Tom Hoefer, executive director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, wants to see more government-funded training. He emphasized, “It’s going to take the application of resources, time and efforts from aboriginal groups, both governments, as well as industry working together to make it happen.”
Rate this country for jurisdictional risk and rule of law
Canadian natives can exert a powerful influence on resource development. Furthermore their ability to hold long blockades and occupations has some observers asking to what extent the rule of law applies to them. Now a Toronto judge might be wondering the same about police.
As Christie Blatchford related in Monday’s National Post, police in southwestern Ontario flatly refused a judge’s order to evict natives who were blocking a railway. On December 21, Superior Court Judge David Brown granted CN Rail an injunction to have the protesters removed.
But Sarnia police refused. “In fact one staff sergeant, Jeff Hodgson, who stopped by the blockade, did so only to join a circle of protesters who were drumming; the YouTube footage of that little exercise is still online,” Blatchford reported. (That’s apparently Hodgson on the left, starting at 1:26 of this video clip.)
Six days later the judge learned what happened—or, rather, didn’t happen. “I must confess,” Blatchford quoted him, “that I am shocked by such disrespect shown to this court by the Sarnia police.
“Local police agencies cannot ignore judicial orders under the guise of contemplating how best to use their tactical discretion. Such an approach would have the practical effect of neutering court orders,” Brown ruled.
Nevertheless, Blatchford wrote, “the barricade stayed up until January 2, when Sarnia police, under pressure from another judicial order, finally enforced the injunction.”
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