B.C. government knew for years of plan to import Chinese miners – by Craig McInnes (Vancouver Sun – October 11, 2012)


Young Canadian workers could have been trained for highly paid mining positions

How long does it take to train a coal miner? Granted, at least in Canada, it’s been a while since all that was required was a strong back, a desperate need of a job and a high tolerance for dangerous and dirty work.

But five years? That’s how long the provincial government has known that a company proposing an underground coal mine near Tumbler Ridge in northeastern B.C. wanted to bring in experienced miners from China as part of its operating plan because of a lack of skilled underground miners here.

As Vancouver Sun reporter Peter O’Neil noted Wednesday, Premier Christy Clark didn’t mention during her trade mission to China last November that most of the coal mining jobs created by a $1.4-billion Chinese investment in B.C. would be filled by Chinese workers. But at least her officials should have known that the rationale given in 2007 by the Canadian Dehua International Mines Group for bringing in miners from China appears to be essentially unchanged in 2012, despite her government’s focus on jobs for British Columbians.

As O’Neil reported, the first of a group of 200 temporary Chinese workers approved by the federal government will be arriving in B.C. in the coming weeks to start work on one of four projects that could provide employment for 1,600 to 2,000 Chinese miners and an estimated 480 to 800 jobs for Canadians.

The company says it can’t find the specialized workers it needs in British Columbia, where there are few remaining underground mines. The federal government, which runs the temporary foreign worker program under which about 150,000 people are allowed into the country each year, agrees there is a labour shortage in mining.

There is also a shortage of jobs in Canada for Canadians looking for work, especially young Canadians who are the most likely to take advantage of high-paying work in the mining industry if there were clear paths for them to do so.

The provincial government has for several years been talking about the need to upgrade trades training and for young British Columbians and their parents to consider apprenticeships and blue collar work as a respectable alternative to university and white collar jobs.

So how did we get to the point when five years after a company announced its intentions to open an underground coal mine, the province has done so little to prepare British Columbians for the potential jobs?

For the rest of this article, please go to the Vancouver Sun website: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/government+knew+years+plan+import+Chinese+miners/7373193/story.html