Mines critic, Donaldson, unimpressed with Liberal government’s lack of foresight

That mining companies are importing temporary foreign workers is proof the Liberal government failed to to address skilled labour shortage.

  • Oct. 12, 2012 3:00 p.m.

News that mining companies are importing temporary foreign workers is proof that the Liberal government has failed to take any real steps to address the skilled labour shortage, say the New Democrats.

“Analysts have been warning about the skills labour shortage for years, but the Liberals have taken no real action to train tomorrow’s workers today,” said New Democrat mines critic Doug Donaldson.

“News this week that a mine near Tumbler Ridge plans to bring in 201 temporary foreign workers only brought focus to this issue, but the government has been aware for years that this problem would come up.

“In 2008, a mining industry task force estimated there would be 15,000 unfilled vacancies in mining over the next decade,” said Donaldson. “The industry has been waiting, but there has been no action from the government.”

Donaldson, MLA for Stikine, said New Democrats fully support immigration, but bringing in temporary workers while failing to train B.C. workers will have long-lasting negative effects on our economy.

New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix has made skills training a priority, committing to spend $100 million on non-repayable grants for post-secondary education and training.

“We know that 80 per cent of all jobs in the future will require some post-secondary education,” said skills training critic Gwen O’Mahony. “If, as jobs minister Pat Bell claims, these mining jobs could not be filled by British Columbians, he is clearly admitting his own government failed to put programs in place to train workers.

Just to highlight their failure, the Liberals will be cutting the post secondary budget by $50 million over the next two years. It’s the only ministry that received a nominal cut in the last budget.”

O’Mahony said this is a problem that extends beyond the mining industry.

“We know that we’re going to see huge sections of our workforce move toward retirement in the next decade,” said O’Mahony.

The government must take the lead in rebuilding our skilled workforce. We’ve lost time under the Liberals, but New Democrats want to see a revitalized skills training system in place in British Columbia.”