Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
April 8, 2010

Members in Northern Ontario rally for jobs and communities

The recession has caused pain across the country, but communities in Northern Ontario are bleeding jobs at an alarming rate. Losses have come in both the private and public sectors, including Service Canada, and CEIU members are joining their neighbours to stand against the economic destruction of their communities.

Laura St-Jean, President of CEIU Local 650 in Timmins and Northern District Representative of CEIU Ontario Council in conjunction with Kevin McNama, Northeastern District Representative of the PSAC and Connie Lento, President of CEIU Local 566 in Sault Ste Marie, are helping to organize a May 19 rally in Sault Ste Marie to save northern Ontario jobs. “We have to step up the pressure on politicians to take action,” St-Jean said, “because our communities can’t take many more losses.”

Pointing to the decision of Swiss-based mining company Xstrata to shut down the Kidd Creek Met Site in Timmins that will see 640 lose their jobs, St-Jean argues for intervention by the provincial government: “The ore is mined in Timmins and it should continue to be processed at Kidd Creek.” Provincial legislation currently requires that ore must be processed in Canada, rather than Ontario, and this has allowed Xstrata to ship the ore to Quebec for processing. “All we’re saying is that ore mined in Ontario should be processed in Ontario – something every community would support,” added St-Jean, “and this is already the law Newfoundland and Labrador.” Local NDP MPP Gilles Bisson has tabled a Private Members Bill in the Ontario Legislature to make the change, but the government has not shown support for the measure.

In Sudbury, 700 jobs have disappeared at Vale Inco despite assurances from the Brazilian company that it would not eliminate positions as a result of its takeover of Inco. The United Steelworkers remain locked in a strike at Vale Inco that began on July 13, 2009. The company, which netted profits of $13 billion (USD) in 2008, has been using scabs in the course of the strike which has led to bitter divisions in the community.

As for Service Canada, it has designated the offices in North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay and Kenora as “non-growth” areas. This will see jobs pull out of the north and move to other areas, adding to the losses suffered by the private sector. “For communities across the north, the steady loss of jobs in both the private and public sectors is devastating our communities which is why we’re pushing back, starting with our rally on May 19.”

The Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Sault Ste Marie Labour Council are supporting the rally which will be held at the office of NDP MP Tony Martin.

Joining them will be CEIU National President Jeannette Meunier-McKay, a native of New Liskeard. “I grew up in northern Ontario and know what our communities are facing” she said “and I see the same thing in many communities such as Sydney, Nova Scotia.” Recently CEIU members marched with their community in Sydney over the loss of 147 jobs at CIC’s Case Processing Centre. “Our locals are standing up for their members and their communities” said Meunier-McKay, “and I’m looking forward to the May 19 rally in Sault Ste Marie.”

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