The facts on temporary foreign workers in the Northeast
By Pat Bell
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour
Oct. 12, 2012
VICTORIA – Several media reports in recent days have focused on temporary foreign workers hired to do work for Canada Dehua, a company that is undertaking coal exploration activities at two sites in northeastern British Columbia. The following facts have been absent from much of this reporting:
1. Canada Dehua has applied for and received a bulk sample permit in advance of undertaking environmental assessments and is sampling the proposed deposits for viability. This sampling requires individuals trained in underground mining.
2. The workers hired for this were recruited because there is a lack of individuals in Canada with the necessary skills.
3. The jobs are temporary – for a six to eight month period while the exploration takes place. In the event these projects receive approved environmental assessments, qualified British Columbians will be at the front of the line for the full-time positions.
It is no secret that there is a shortage of individuals in Canada with experience working in underground coal mines. There are only two underground coal mines currently operating in Canada. Work in these mines is highly mechanized and requires a technical, specialized workforce. These skills are not learned in two weeks – they require significantly more time and represent the kind of training investment that people make when they are certain of the job prospects.
It is our government’s priority to enhance and increase skills-training opportunities for British Columbians, and to ensure that they are first in line to benefit from our economic successes. We also know that the demand for skilled labour in the mining industry is projected to lead to shortages in the near future.
Through initiatives such as our government’s Skills and Trainings Plan, our $2.9-million forestry and mining skills partnership with the United Steelworkers Union, and our $1-million Mineral Exploration and Mining Industry Labour Shortage Task Force, we are taking proactive measures to ensure that businesses, and specifically those in the mining industry, have the skilled labour force they require. These initiatives are built on the best information about our future labour force needs and partnership with B.C. business. They will also ensure that British Columbians have the skills needed to be first in line to receive those jobs.
Temporary foreign workers, however, can play an important role as well – they allow companies to move projects forward while our skills initiatives train British Columbians for the long-term positions in these industries.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect