New Democrats to premier: Did you sign away B.C. jobs to foreign mining companies?

Posted in:

VICTORIA – B.C.’s New Democrats are challenging Premier Christy Clark to share the details of the trade agreements she announced during her 2011 China trade mission, and questioning whether provisions were made to ensure jobs would be created for British Columbians in the deal.

“The premier talks a big game with her so-called jobs plan, and that was the thrust of her trip to China. But it has become clear there was always a plan for this mining company to bring their own workers into B.C. to work in their coal mines,” said New Democrat labour critic Shane Simpson.

In a letter sent to the premier and jobs minister Pat Bell on Wednesday, Simpson and New Democrat mining critic Doug Donaldson asked if the Liberals signed away B.C. jobs for British Columbians in agreements with international mining companies. They also released freedom of information documents that show the government knew the company always planned to bring in its own workers to B.C.

A two-page meeting note ahead of a November 2011 meeting in Beijing with HD Mining International shows the premier and staff were aware that the company intends to supply half of the workers for their Murray River Coal Mine project with their own staff. The “desired outcome” section of the note makes no mention of ensuring the project’s jobs go to British Columbians.

“It’s shocking that the Liberal government wouldn’t consider more jobs for British Columbians a ‘desired outcome’ of that meeting when they knew HD Mining planned to bring in so many of their own workers to the province,” said Donaldson. “If deals were signed by this government and HD Mining or any other international corporation, British Columbians deserve to know if their jobs were signed away in the process.”

Donaldson added that the Liberals knew this was a major problem several years ago, but consistently failed to act at every turn. “It is a colossal failure on the part of the B.C. Liberals to secure those mining jobs in B.C. for British Columbians.”

“While the Liberal premier touted the trade deals as job creators in the mining industry, she failed to mention that hundreds or even thousands of those jobs won’t be going to British Columbians,” said Simpson.

“New Democrats believe the path forward to strengthen B.C.’s economy in the long run is to have a strong focus on skills training so we can address labour shortages that have been identified in a number of areas, not just mining.”

Adrian Dix and the B.C. New Democrats have a plan to increase access to post-secondary education and trades training by offering $100 million in needs-based non-repayable student grants.