City backs Giant plan
Help looking for ways to keep Giant workers in the North

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 01/99) - The city of Yellowknife is throwing its support, moral and financial, behind a plan to minimize the impact of impending Giant mine layoffs.

At a noon meeting Thursday, council voted to chip in $5,750 toward the cost of an effort to find jobs and training for workers at Giant mine.

The money came at the request of David Connelly, hired by the union representing Giant workers to oversee a study designed to keep as many of the Giant workers in the North as possible.

"To date this group has received funding from the federal government and the territorial government to the tune of $60,000," said Coun. Bob Brooks. "Considering the detrimental affects this could have on the city ... I would think this is absolutely the least we can do to get this thing along."

Connelly also asked council to consider a written show of support for the effort to keep the miners in the North. Councillors at the meeting agreed to work out a statement of support at a meeting of council that evening.

Both requests came after a presentation by Connelly of work done to date.

After consultation with the union, businesses, aboriginal groups and environmental organizations, Connelly identified four ways of keeping the workers in the North:

  • using existing government apprenticeship, retraining, job creation and wage subsidy programs
  • employment with other mines
  • investing in capital projects that would require skills miners possess
  • spurring demand in sectors, such as manufacturing, that could employ ex-miners

"I very much subscribe to the thinking that appears in this document," said Coun. Ben McDonald of the report. "We don't want to remain a resource bank for big corporations that take value out of the North."

Connelly and union representatives emphasized the main challenge is bridging the gap between the closure of Giant and the startup of other major projects, such as Diavik and other diamond mines.

"If we can't find a way of bridging this gap, we're setting ourselves up for another 20 years of fly-in, fly-out," said Connelly.