Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for July 25, 2013

Foreign worker program no boone for mining

Contrary to government assertions, the Yukon Chamber of Mines says the industry is unlikely to benefit to any great degree from the territory’s newly announced temporary foreign worker program.


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Michael Kokiw

Contrary to government assertions, the Yukon Chamber of Mines says the industry is unlikely to benefit to any great degree from the territory’s newly announced temporary foreign worker program.

“It’s a bit of an illusion; people think this is all done for the mining industry,” Michael Kokiw, the chamber’s executive director, said in an interview today.

“The truth is we are not currently aware of anyone currently in the mining industry using these programs. These are all being used by tourism and the service supply industry,” Kokiw said.

“We’re happy to see it, and it may become of value in the future. But at this point, anyone who is still working within the mining industry, within this regime right now is really, really focused on local hiring, and community hiring and building that up.”

Kokiw explained that the program is currently not economically feasible when the cost of training foreign workers, particularly around issues like safety, is considered.

“The cost is too high as opposed to using local workers.” he said.

“Now if we were to get to the point where we had some mega mine open up and we needed 6,000 people, then there would be an opportunity on that scale, but a lot of our mines are small to mid-scale and they would prefer, and it’s more economical, for them to use local hire.”

Rick Karp, the president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, agrees the ideal situation for many Yukon businesses would be to hire locally. However, it’s just not feasible for many of them, he said today.

“Look at Alexco’s announcement just last week – how they’re closing down for the winter and how, if they were able to hire locally – they spend millions of dollars flying in skilled workers – and if they could hire locally, if we could attract employees to reside in Yukon then they may not have closed down, and that would have been a huge benefit to Yukon if they continued to remain open,” Karp said.

“As is the case with other mining operations and with tourism operations as well.

“There are skilled jobs that all business would love to be able to fill locally, but we just can’t do it, and so what are we going to do? Close down? We need to have workers and the temporary foreign worker program is one way.”

But most of the jobs being filled by temporary foreign workers are positions a lot of Canadians just don’t want, Karp said, explaining in part figures released earlier this week by the Conference Board of Canada .

The report shows that even as unemployment has risen in Canada, so has the number of temporary foreign workers hired.

“It’s probably too late for this tourism season, but in tourism, when we look at specific jobs that are available, they’re jobs that we don’t necessarily want to do – room cleaning, catering jobs, doing dishes, working in the kitchen in restaurants, and things like that.

“They’re not jobs that necessarily we as Canadians are running to fill,” said Karp.

The Yukon’s unemployment rate has consistently remained lower than the national average, he pointed out.

Overall, the chamber of commerce is supportive of the Yukon’s program.

“I think it’s very positive that the Yukon government, in particular the Department of Education advanced education branch, has taken over,” Karp said.

“I think we’re paving the way for the rest of the country. The temporary foreign worker program that we have here, I think, will be of a huge benefit economically and for local residents as well.”

The government unveiled its program at a news conference held Wednesday morning.

Beginning Aug. 1, the territory will take over administration of the federal temporary foreign worker program for one year with the possibility of an extension.

A key component of the Yukon’s program, an aspect unique in Canada, is the partnership with the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, emphasizing a commitment to safe and healthy workplaces.

The board will conduct assessments of workplaces and submit a report to be considered along with an employers application.

According to officials, having the Yukon government administer the program will also speed up the application process.

CommentsAdd a comment

Jackie Ward

Jul 25, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Ahh yes, Rick speaks again. Like I always predicted too. You only hear him when TFW’S are involved. Even in this article he promotes the idea of local hires, but we all know we never hear him talk about it. For him to publicly state that if Alexeco had more local workers then the mine might stay open is actually pretty pathetic. Why do you even open your mouth Rick? Alexeco cares about profits, not people. Look how quickly they run for the hills when the price of silver drops. That’s not a very good business partner for anyone in the Yukon. They wrecked people’s life’s in Keno and its “oops”, off to somewhere more profitable. “Sorry for your property value decrease, sorry for the noise and dust”.
Attention Rick. We don’t need any more TFW’S here to drive down our wages further and steal jobs from students. I would be embarrassed to say some of the things you say publicly and what you promote. Instead you could be lobbying these businesses to train locally to avoid this all together. But that doesn’t involve TFW’S though so we won’t hold our breath.


Jul 26, 2013 at 12:39 am

How many of you would trade jobs with any of the immigrant workers?  They take the jobs nobody wants.  Many who were born in the Yukon can get more from welfare than minimum wage provides, so why work?

Groucho d'North

Jul 26, 2013 at 6:52 pm

It has been my experience that our new Yukon workers have a very positive work ethic, something that is sadly lacking in many of our home-grown kids. Not all - some shine in customer service and deserve the rewards of their hard work. But the many new faces who are cheerful and willing to help their customers raise the bar for all in the retail and service sectors.

What’s the worst that could happen? Service will improve?

Oh and that old saw about them taking the jobs from the local labour force; Back in the 60-70s not many wanted to drive cabs in Vancouver for minimum wages, except the east Indian community who had come from hardship we in the western world can’t imagine. They dominated the cab driving fleets for minimum wages -now they own most of the cab companies in Vancouver and a large part of the trucking industry in the lower mainland is now owned by these shrewd business people.

Their hard work and commitment fuel our economy and I welcome them.


Jul 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I’ve had the same experience as Gd’M. The immigrant workers I’ve met are clean, polite, cheerful, helpful, and show up for every shift, sober and eager to work.  They do a full shift without slacking off or complaining.  It’s often difficult to find Yukoners with that work-ethic, who will work those minimum wage jobs.  Especially when they can get more money from welfare and stay home playing video games and ‘hitting the bong’.

Immigrant workers are a valuable addition to our community.  I hope they stay and become citizens.

bobby bitman

Jul 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Any adult working dilligently at a full time job deserves a wage that will provide some semblance of dignity in their life.  By that I mean a small simple one bedroom or bachelor apartment, ($1000 a month including utilities); access to reasonable transportation, ($500 a month to run an inexpensive car including gas, repair and maintanance, depreciation and insurance); money for good groceries ($500 a month - and I could not do it this cheap being a bit picky myself); money for clothes and grooming ($200 a month); spending money ($400 a month); and maybe even enough for something special twice a year, be it a little vacation, buying presents for friends, etc. ($250 a month).  Total?  $2850 per month.  With a 40 hour work week that works out to $17 an hour.  What is the wage at Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Kentucky Fried Chicken… and then what is the wage of the lowest paid government workers in town?  Hmmm.  We can all afford an extra 10 cents for our cup of coffee if neccessary.  The Yukon needs to provide living wages, not subsidize sub-standard wages with Canadian Citizenship and/or residency.

Get your facts straight

Jul 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Reading the comments here makes me laugh. Everyone seems to be a big expert on nothing. No one wants to look at hard cold facts. But rather look at the world through rosé glasses. Bobby states we need to subsidize a living wage. Lol. Excuse me? Since when is it my responsibility to ensure someone gets a good wage. Go talk to the business owner that constantly raises their prices and pays minimum wage. Then whines and complains that everyone is lazy and they need to bring in TFW’S. Bobby, I just picture you as a lifetime NDPer. NDP = Always someone else’s problem. I assume none of you people have kids. Why should our children suffer and not get valuable job experience because a business owner is greedy? Why should I support immigrants who refuse to learn English? Why should I support immigrants who could care less about our Canadian values? Why in an English country do I go to a store and workers blah blah blah in their own language but have no clue what I’m saying when I ask them a question? You support this? Oh, they are nice and friendly, so who cares right?
I’ve talked to many young people who can’t get a McJob or a Canadian Tire job. Why? No one finds it odd that 95% of all the workers at CT are Filipino? It’s nothing against them personally, but why do we accept this? Is that the only place in the world that people can come from? What about Europe? Africa? It doesn’t seem very fair, and almost appears racist on the surface. And comparing Canadian workers to new immigrants is a really showing your intelligence. Yup, Canadians will complain and that’s our right. Of course these new people won’t complain because they know they can be sent back home. Do you people even think before you write?  I welcome people coming here for a better life.  If you don’t want to assimilate into our society, don’t bother coming.


Jul 30, 2013 at 3:01 am

Living by oneself on the budget b-b states that people ‘deserve’ is a luxury not some entitlement.  If you can’t make ‘ends-meet’ get a roommate.

Nobody is entitled to a car.
$850 a month for spending on “clothes, grooming, vacation, gifts, & spending money” ?  Get real.
I own my house debt free because I worked hard with that as my priority, and live comfortably on much less than what b-b states people ‘deserve’. 

Life isn’t fair it’s hard, get used to it.  Nobody owes you anything.  There is no ‘free lunch’.

take a closer look

Jul 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Keep bringing in the TFW and continue the race to the bottom.  Bobby Bitman is right about setting a Living Wage (although I disagree with his numbers).
Some other posters make valid points. Someone needs to investigate who makes the decisions within these programs because it smells bad.  For instance I read a few weeks back in one of the local papers about a cleaning company owned by a FW complaining how hard it was to get her niece to come over here to work for her. 
It’s obviously not about finding a worker. Its all about getting extended family members over here.

The nepotism permeates right through to government jobs as well.  While the feds tighten up rules for legitimate refugees, they open the doors wide open for abuses to occur under TFW and Nominee programs. Seems backwards to me.

A Numbered Company

Aug 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Something about this program makes me feel like Canada needs to wash its mind out with soap.

bobby bitman

Aug 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm

To ‘Get Your Facts Straight’.  You might start by taking some of your own advice.  Why is it that people who use, ‘lol’, in their posts then proceed to write the angriest, most insulting, bitter, and moronic diatribes to be found on the internet?  Just a pattern I have noticed.

I digress.

‘Get Your Facts Straight’ blathers:  “Bobby states we need to subsidize a living wage. Lol. Excuse me?”

In short, ‘Get Your Facts Straight’, no where did I say anybody should be ‘subsidized’.  Whew.  What a dmbas.  Learn to read, try again.  Not even going to bother with the rest of your post, but I do suggest you try to calm down.  Not good for you to get so easily riled.

bobby bitman

Aug 1, 2013 at 5:20 pm

For those of you who missed where I am coming from, I support a living wage for full time workers SO THAT EXISTING YUKONERS WILL TAKE THE JOBS.  The foreign workers are getting a huge top up to their wages, that being Canadian residency within a year or two.  The wage to them is X dollars, PLUS Canadian residency and all the benefits that flow from that.

Rather than subsidizing huge corporations such as Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire, and others, by providing residency and eventual citizenship to their underpaid workers - which is the real reason they come here, not to pour coffee at wages that can’t get them an apartment or wheels, - rather than this, we should have a minimum wage that is a living wage.

My numbers of $17 an hour or $18 an hour are not extreme.  Is there even one government job in the territory that pays less than this?

I for one am happy to pay more for my DMN cup of coffee or my gallon of paint if it means a Yukoner will get a job that pays a wage that allows some dignity.

And no, I am not an NDP’er, I have voted for all of the parties depending the platform and needs of the day.  And no, I am not a government worker and I have never been on social assistance of any kind in my life.  And, I am far from poor or marginalized, I am ‘up the ladder’ but I still have concern for those who are not.

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