Niki Ashton: Manitoba MP Report – (Thompson Citizen – May 27, 2011)

This article was originally published in the Thompson Citizen which was established in June 1960. The Citizen covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.

Thompson deserves better

Niki Ashton

Six months ago Vale announced its intention to close the smelter and refinery in Thompson. This came just weeks after they received $1billion in unsecured loans from the federal government.

The City of Thompson came together with the Steelworkers and the province of Manitoba to develop solutions that would keep value-added jobs at Vale in Thompson. The solutions addressed the specific issues Vale had raised. The solutions included action by the federal government. Vale rejected these solutions without ever once proposing any solutions of their own.

This past week Vale announced it will be hiring Toronto- based consultant rePlan for $2.5 million to look at economic diversification in Thompson. It made no commitment to look at how it can keep value-added jobs in Thompson. In other words, Vale is looking at economic diversification with other people’s money.

Thompson deserves better.

Since the 1950’s Thompson has been a fully integrated nickel operation. Inco, now Vale has made and continues to make significant profit in Thompson.

Vale should recognize that these are our resources and commit to provide concrete solutions to keep value-added jobs at Vale in Thompson.

The federal government needs to be involved as well. Where is their financial support to keep the value-added jobs in Thompson?