Northern miners concerned federal coronavirus wage subsidy leaves them in the cold – by Bob Weber (Canadian Press/Globe and Mail – April 14, 2020)

Northern miners have told the federal government that the wage subsidy program brought in to get the country through the COVID-19 pandemic leaves them out in the cold.

“We urgently request the federal government take the unique circumstances of Canada’s North into account and ensure the companies active in its most important and largest private sector industry are provided the supports they need to survive,” says a letter from territorial mining associations to federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal.

The letter, co-signed by the Yukon Chamber of Mines, is being supported by all three territorial governments. Tom Hoefer of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines said Monday the program is a poor fit for the northern mining industry.

“I don’t think they’re getting the help that we expected them to.” Mr. Hoefer points out mining companies are squeezed between falling prices for commodities and increased COVID-19-related expenses.

More than 1,200 northerners have been sent home to their remote communities, many still on the payroll. Meanwhile, companies are using chartered planes to pick up their remaining workers from the south, as well as incurring the extra cost of enhancing public health measures at the mine sites.

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