Work permits for Chinese miners in limbo
Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley said insufficient efforts were made to recruit or train Canadians for the expected jobs. (FILE PHOTO)
Ottawa is “not satisfied” with a permit process to allow 201 Chinese miners to work temporarily at a Tumbler Ridge, B.C. coal mine, it was announced Thursday. The move came almost a week after two unions went to court for a judicial review of the applications.
In a statement, Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley said insufficient efforts were made to recruit or train Canadians for the expected jobs.
She added a foreign-language requirement listed on operator HD Mining’s adverts was not “a genuine job requirement” for the positions.
“It is clear to our government that there are some problems with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. We take these very seriously and are currently reviewing the program,” Finley said.
“Litigation could impede this work and lead to court battles rather than a genuine fix.”
On Nov. 2, the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union and International Union of Operating Engineers filed the judicial review application in Federal Court. They have also requested that “labour market opinions,” a research process of hiring the workers, be released in full documentation.
Charles Gordon, a lawyer representing the unions, said his clients were not backing down.
“I have not seen anything that those foreign workers aren’t coming to Canada,” he said Thursday. “We’re going ahead with our application.”
Also at issue is a lack of a training process for Canadians to conduct “long wall mining,” the production-phase method of underground coal mining, according to Victoria.
The unions argue the initial stage sampling process, which the temporary foreign permits were issued to conduct, doesn’t require this training.
“Long wall mining is not unusual. It’s the most common form of underground coal mining and it should be relatively easy to train Canadians to do that work — if they need training at all,” Gordon said.
The unions are expected to speak with a Federal Court case management judge Friday, with a formal appearance for both parties early next week, he added.
B.C.’s Jobs and Tourism Minister Pat Bell said the province is also investigating another part of the hiring process, adding the permits are federal jurisdiction.
“Any problems they may have identified in that process are theirs to address,” he said in a statement.
“Our goal is to create investment, to promote further mining development and to determine if we can build a mine.”