‘Serious damage’: Businesses warn of looming layoffs, loss of sales as rail disruption drags on – by Jesse Snyder and Julia Mastroianni (Financial Post – February 19, 2020)


Businesses are warning of looming layoffs, lost revenue and a hit to Canada’s reputation, as rail disruptions drag on in the country.

A coalition of 39 industry associations wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, calling on him to “work urgently” with First Nations and police to bring the blockade to a peaceful end.

“The damage inflicted on the Canadian economy and on the welfare of all our citizens mounts with each hour that these illegal disruptions are allowed to continue,” the coalition said, which represents automotives, mining and numerous other industries.

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Infrastructure Bank to advise on proposed $1.6-billion Manitoba-Nunavut hydro link – by Bill Curry (Globe and Mail – February 5, 2020)


The Canada Infrastructure Bank will advise proponents of a plan to bring hydroelectricity and broadband internet from northern Manitoba to several communities in Nunavut.

Known as the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project, it would lead to the construction of a 1,200-kilometre, 150-megawatt transmission line joining Gillam, Man., to four Nunavut communities on the northwestern shore of Hudson Bay, as well as inland to Baker Lake. The project would also include a fibre-optic link, bringing broadband internet to the region.

Proponents say the project would bring environmental benefits by replacing diesel power, while also supporting Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.’s gold mining activity in the region.

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Thunder Bay: Warm weather creating ‘crisis’ for First Nations that rely on ice roads (CBC News Thunder Bay – February 4, 2020)


Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug is flying in fuel and pondering how to ship materials for a new school

Warm weather is playing havoc with the winter road network that connects remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario to the provincial highway system, according to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Only one community’s winter road was fully operational as of Jan. 31, according to NAN’s winter road report. Fifteen communities have roads that are open to light traffic and three to partial traffic. Six communities’ roads are still under construction, and six communities have roads that are closed due to weather.

“It is a developing crisis as many of our communities are running out of fuel and cannot haul anything in,” NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler wrote on Twitter. “We need immediate government intervention.”

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Poor winter road conditions a growing concern for NAN – by Doug Diaczuk (tbnewswatch.com – January 31, 2020)


Many winter roads throughout the region are still not safe and communities that rely on the network for supplies like fuel are worried about financial impacts

THUNDER BAY – Poor winter road conditions throughout the north are becoming a growing concern for remote First Nation communities that rely on the seasonal transportation network to bring in crucial supplies.

“It’s becoming more and more concerning,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief, Alvin Fiddler. “Now that we are at the end of January, the fact that many of our communities still can’t haul big loads, so fuel or other supplies to the communities, is something we need to raise now with both Ontario and Canada.”

Work on winter roads normally begins in November and December, with trucks transporting full loads by mid to late January. “This year they are not even close,” Fiddler said. “Some communities need another 12 inches of ice before they can haul full loads of fuel to their communities.”

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Martin Falls delivers all-season road study update – by Rick Garrick (Wawatay News – January 24, 2020)



Marten Falls delivered an update on its proposed all-season Community Access Road during a Public Information Centre session at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay. “Marten Falls has been wanting an all-season road to the community for a long time and they’ve been working on it for a number of years now,” says Bob Baxter, Marten Falls citizen and member of the Community Access Road project team.

“We’re just in the environmental assessment stage and consulting stage right now to collect feedback from the public and the communities that will be affected.” Baxter says there has been mixed feedback from the community about the Community Access Road. “There’s problems like drug issues that they’re concerned about and the fluctuation of people coming up there to hunt,” Baxter says.

“On the positive side the cost of living would be brought down — the prices would somewhat come down so people would be able to purchase a lot more than they are purchasing now.” Lawrence Baxter, senior community advisor with Marten Falls, says the Community Access Road would be “very beneficial” for the community.

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Ottawa will take your comments on the Ring of Fire road – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – December 19, 2019)


Public comments are being taken as part of a federal environment assessment (EA) of the first leg of the proposed north-south Ring of Fire road. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (formerly known as the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency) is inviting feedback for the upcoming EA of the Marten Falls Community Access Road Project.

The agency determined an EA was necessary on Nov.29. Ottawa wants the public to provide direction on what specific factors must be addressed for the environmental study and how the public should be engaged during this process.

A provincial environment assessment on the corridor began last March. Both levels of government are expected to coordinate their efforts in this process. Marten Falls First Nation, the road proponent, is a fly-in community of 325 at the junction of the Albany and Ogoki Rivers, about 170 kilometres northeast of Nakina in northwestern Ontario and about 100 kilometres southeast of the mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire.

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CN Rail strike ends with tentative deal with union, but fallout continues for farmers, miners – by Emily Jackson and Naomi Powell (Financial Post – November 26, 2019)


Canadian National Railway and Teamsters Canada reached a tentative agreement to renew the collective agreement for 3,200 conductors and yard crews, ending a week-long strike that choked the country’s rail capacity at a critical shipping time for farmers.

Employees can return to work as early as Tuesday at 2 p.m., with normal operations resuming Wednesday at 6 a.m., according to statements from CN and the union. The parties have agreed to no further job action during the ratification process, which is expected to take eight weeks.

Details of the agreement will not be revealed until members vote on the deal by secret ballot, but the union previously said the dispute was over long hours and fatigue that led to what it characterized as dangerous working conditions.

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Nutrien forced to shut down largest mine due to CN strike – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – November 25, 2019)


The week-long strike by 3,200 Canadian National Railway Co. train conductors has forced the shutdown of Nutrien Ltd.’s potash mine in Rocanville, Sask.

Nutrien, the world’s largest fertilizer company, said on Monday it will halt output at its largest mine for two weeks beginning Dec. 2., as the impact of the strike at Canada’s largest rail company widens.

“It is extremely disappointing that in a year when the agricultural sector has been severely impacted by poor weather and trade disputes, the CN strike will add further hardship to the Canadian agriculture industry,” said Chuck Magro, Nutrien’s chief executive officer. “Any further disruption will be harmful to our business, the Canadian economy, and Canada’s competitive position and reputation as a reliable supplier of fertilizer and food.”

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OPINION: The CN strike and our ensuing winter of discontent – by Melanie Paradis (Globe and Mail – November 25, 2019)


Melanie Paradis is a director at McMillan Vantage Policy Group.

What started with coal miners in the United Kingdom may serve as a warning for what could come for Quebec and the rest of Canada this winter. With a new minority Parliament and a Senate in disarray, an inability or unwillingness to act could trigger Canada’s own Winter of Discontent.

In the mid-1970s, the British economy was struggling, a problem compounded by soaring inflation. Wages had not kept pace, so coal miners began job actions across Britain. At a time when most of the country’s electricity was produced by coal-burning power stations, the effect was immediate and severe, touching the lives of families and businesses alike.

Within a month of the initial job actions, the British government temporarily implemented a three-day workweek in order to reduce electricity consumption and conserve coal stocks.

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CN strike leaves farmers, miners scrambling as Canada’s biggest rail network shuts down – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – November 19, 2019)


A strike by 3,200 Canadian National Railway Co. train conductors and yard workers has closed Canada’s largest rail freight network, triggering fears about the impact on farmers, mining companies and other pillars of the economy.

The CN employees, represented by Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, walked off the job at just past midnight on Tuesday after several months of mediated talks. Negotiations to replace an agreement that expired in July were scheduled to continue on Tuesday at a downtown Montreal hotel, said Christopher Monette, a spokesman for the Teamsters.

CN had already been winding down operations to avoid leaving loaded trains in storage or on tracks. The railway stopped picking up some hazardous goods and interchange cars from other railways in recent days. CN said in an internal memo that qualified managers will operate some trains, focusing on container shipments.

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JOURNEY DOWN THE RAILWAY THAT COULDN’T BE BUILT – by Peter Gzowski (MACLEAN’S Magazine – Novmeber 16, 1963)


A portrait, then and now, of the extraordinary feat that is the Quebec North Shore and Labrador line

THE SUN was inching into the bleak northern sky when Maclean’s photo editor Don Newlands and I checked out of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Hotel in Wabush, Labrador, to begin the journey to Seven Islands, Que. We had flown into Wabush directly from Toronto and spent a few days there looking into life on the last frontier, à la 1963, and although we had both enjoyed our visit with the men and women who are opening up the wilderness, I for one was anxious to get going.

Our program was to drive our rented car to Labrador City, three miles away over a dirt road, and then take the passenger-express train from there to Seven Islands. Most of this journey would be over the QNS & L — the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway — and seeing the railway, I knew, would be an exciting experience for me.

I had spent the summer of 1952 as a beardless (though not for lack of trying) chain man on a survey party helping to build the QNS & L. And, although I hadn’t been back in eleven years, I had retained a sort of proprietary interest in the railway.

The QNS & L was one of the great construction projects of our time, a job that many expert engineers were certain could never be finished, and many of us who worked on it — there were as many as seven thousand men employed at one time — looked on the achievement much the way war veterans look on battles their regiments have won.

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Paved with promises (Part Two): The North’s infrastructure deficit impacts sovereignty, the economy and quality of life – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – October 7, 2019)


Canada would gain a deep-water arctic port, Nunavut would get its first road out of the territory and mineral-rich regions would open up if two mega-proposals come to fruition.

Recent funding announcements to study the Northwest Territories’ Slave Geological Province Corridor and Nunavut’s Grays Bay Road and Port projects could lead to a unified all-season route from a highway running northeast out of Yellowknife to stretch north through the Lac de Gras diamond fields, past the Slave and Izok base and precious metals regions, and on to Arctic Ocean shipping.

In mid-August, as federal and NWT elections neared, representatives from both levels of government announced a $40-million study into a possible 413-kilometre all-season route linking the NWT’s Highway #4 with a proposed Nunavut road. The project would also extend the NWT electrical grid to the Slave region, which straddles both sides of the NWT-Nunavut border.

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Paved with promises (Part One): The North’s infrastructure needs get some attention from campaigning politicians – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – October 7, 2019)


Could this be the time when decision-makers finally get serious about Northern infrastructure? With one territorial election just concluded and a deficit-budget-friendly incumbent federal party campaigning for re-election, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut might have reason to expect definitive action demonstrated by men, women and machinery at work. But while some projects show real progress, much of Canada’s Northern potential remains bogged down in talk and studies.

That’s despite some $700 million allocated to the North in Ottawa’s pre-election budget and months of Liberal spending promises since then. Not all that money was intended for infrastructure, however, and even some of the projects labelled that way turn out to be social or cultural programs.

Not necessarily new money either, much of it comes out of Ottawa’s $2-billion National Trade Corridors Fund, now two years into an 11-year program that promised up to $400 million for transportation infrastructure in the three territories by 2028.

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Nunavut’s newest MLA talks about mining and infrastructure – by Elaine Anselmi (Nunatsiaq News – October 17, 2019)


As Nunavut’s legislature starts its fall sitting, David Qamaniq delivers his first members statement

The opening of the Nunavut legislative assembly’s fall sitting saw the newly minted Tununiq MLA, David Qajaakuttuk Qamaniq, give his first member’s statement.

“I would not be here today without the hard work and success of many people,” he opened, thanking his family and friends, as well as the opponent he faced in last month’s byelection, Charlie Inuarak.

“I fully recognize that I have joined this house at the midway point in its term. It feels like joining the National Hockey League midway through the season,” Qamaniq said, prompting laughs all around.

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How to build Ontario: The north needs roads – by Sean Marshall (TV Ontario – September 25, 2019)


ANALYSIS: To boost the region’s economy, meet the challenges of climate change, and provide access to First Nations communities, experts say we need to invest in road infrastructure.

In January 2016, a bridge over the Nipigon River failed. Located roughly 100 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, it forms part of the Trans-Canada Highway — when it was closed after bolts snapped, causing decking to rise 60 centimetres, the highway’s east-west link was severed. “This is the one place in Canada where there is only one road, one bridge across the country,” said Nipigon mayor Richard Harvey.

The only alternative route was through the United States. Truck drivers were stranded in towns such as Greenstone, which issued a state of emergency until temporary repairs could be completed. (The cable-stayed bridge — Ontario’s first — is now complete and has separate spans for eastbound and westbound traffic.)

Across Canada, governments invest in road infrastructure to boost trade and tourism and to improve safety and travel times. In southern Ontario, major highway projects underway include the completion of Highway 407 through Durham Region, a new alignment of Highway 7 between Guelph and Kitchener, and the widening of Highway 400 between Vaughan and Barrie. But in northern Ontario, where the road network is sparse, highways are an essential lifeline.

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