Getting cracking on East-West Tie, say northwest Ontario leaders – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – September 28, 2018)

Government delays in power line expansion project causes exodus of skilled labour

Workers who were trained to start building the East-West Tie transmission line this fall are transitioning into other industrial jobs.

This slow exodus comes from the uncertainty over when construction of the multi-million-dollar power line expansion will finally start as Ontario Energy Board (OEB) hearings begin shortly on two competing bids from NextBridge Infrastructure and Hydro One.

According to Matthew Dupuis, chief of the Red Rock Indian Band, time is of the essence and there seems to be no sense of urgency by the new Ford government to get the often-delayed project back on track. Dupuis is also president of Supercom Industries, a contracting and training joint venture run by six First Nation communities on the north shore of Lake Superior across whose traditional land the power line project will cross.

Its mandate is to maximize First Nation involvement in the more than $700-million development by supplying skilled labour, negotiating service and supply contracts, and cultivating business partnerships.

The Supercom training program was built around the schedule of having the graduates ready to go when construction was to begin this fall. “The idea was no gaps. There was continuous training linked to employment,” said Dupuis.

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