Baffinland criticized for failing to meet Inuit employment targets

“It’s not even come close”

John Loxley, a professor of economics at the University of Saskatchewan, speaks on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s final public hearing in Iqaluit on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposal to expand operations at its Mary River mine. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

Intervenors, staff and community members packed Iqaluit’s Cadet Hall for the fourth day of the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s final public hearing on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s phase two expansion proposal.

But one intervenor, John Loxley, a professor of economics at the University of Manitoba, was not originally scheduled to speak at the hearing.

Loxley is the author of a report released in 2019 called Assessment of the Mary River Project: Impacts and Benefits. That report found that Inuit occupy “a very small share of the jobs at this mine” and the rapid expansion of the workforce will in all likelihood further reduce the Inuit share.

A motion put forward by the Hamlet of Pond Inlet requested that Loxley give a presentation on his report, which the NIRB approved.

Part of Loxley’s presentation on his report focused on Baffinland’s Inuit employment targets, which in 2016, were 25 per cent.

Baffinland’s current Inuit employment is around 14 per cent, according to its 2018 annual report.

“It’s not even come close,” Loxley said.

In his proposal, Loxley recommends that Baffinland compensate Inuit for what he describes as the wages that will be lost if the company does not meet Inuit employment targets.

Brad Armstrong, legal counsel for Baffinland, said that through the Inuit impact and benefit agreement, both the QIA and Baffinland have a joint responsibility to achieve Inuit employment targets.

“Under the Nunavut agreement, there is a requirement that before a company can go forward, they have to negotiate that project with the Inuit association…. There were very hard negotiations on both sides. Do you mean that the government or some other body should step in and start regulating this project, and isn’t this inconsistent with this agreement?” Armstrong asked Loxley.

Loxley restated his point about Baffinland not meeting its Inuit employment targets.

“This is about the company dealing with commitments it is failing to deal with,” Loxley said.

Merlyn Recinos, technical advisor for Igloolik, also encouraged Baffinland to give contracts to small businesses in the north Baffin communities affected by the mine.

“Small Inuit firms in the north Baffin are able to deliver on those projects. If they are able to have an opportunity, they are able to take advantage of it. When a contract is given in a small community, you will be hiring from the community and the community benefits…. We need to create that ecosystem of opportunity in the community,” Recinos said.

Although it was day four of the hearing, intervenors were still on day one’s agenda. The NIRB also ruled on day four, Nov. 5, that the hearing would be extended to allow all intervenors to present and additional dates would be announced soon.

The Iqaluit portion of the hearing wraps up on Nov. 6 and continues in Pond Inlet on Nov. 8.

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(22) Comments:

  1. Posted by Stop the blame game!! on

    Ask any business in the region about the challenges they have obtaining and retaining Inuit employees. Stop with the blame game!! Jobs are there but many Inuit prefer not to commit to the demand and dedication full-time employment requires. Demanding that employers fill positions with local Inuit employees and then condemning and penalizing them when they fail needs to stop!

    • Posted by WB on

      This isn’t about a ‘blame game’ — its about making smart economic decisions for the future of Nunavut Inuit.

      It makes sense for Inuit to manage this resource to maximize the benefits they receive. Expanding the project now will minimize the local benefits.

    • Posted by Frank Tester on

      It was the Hamlet of Pond Inlet, not the MHTO that put forth the motion to have Dr Loxley speak. His paper was part of the Hamlet’s submission to the NIRB hearings. You should correct this.

  2. Posted by NIRB watcher on

    Nunatsiaq News, why are you being so biased with your headlines and reporting! No where do you report that their Inuit Employment has surged to over 470. John L will go back to his office in Winnipeg once this is over and not give a second thought to the poor people of North Baffin.

    • Posted by Skeptical on

      It depends on how you count employees. If you add all the contract employees working to those working at the mine – count the number in a different way than before – of course things will look better – or change policies on letting people go who may not be performing well or … there are lots of ways to make things look better. That doesn’t mean Baffinland isn’t trying. Dr. Loxley recognized that.

  3. Posted by Consistency on

    This is why they should not be approved phase 2 at this time. everyone that wants to work and can work is, so give us more time to train and teach what jobs are needed to be done and get the employment rates up before expanding the project. Mine work is not for everyone (2 on 2 off is not easy being away from family that long), but as it is more of a reality more will get into to. let us build capacity.

    • Posted by Bufoonery on

      Absolutely! Why not put the entire global economy on hold until Inuit are ready to participate in it! Call us back in 40 years!

      • Posted by On hold on

        That’s a good idea. Maybe if we put the world on hold we – and our kids – will still have one in 40 years!

      • Posted by snapshot on

        Why don’t we go to your backyard and start digging without your consent. Then we’ll do it for 40 years until we get good at it. While the world economy is on hold.

        • Posted by Pathetic on

          Consent has been given, this is a non argument teething with the usual self pity.

          • Posted by Snapshot on

            Aaah, to look at a world with rosed-colored glasses.

            **seewhatididthere?**

  4. Posted by Harrol on

    Baffinland is part of a large multinational company based out of India. Unfortunately if they ate put in a position of not being able to operate Baffinland in similar manner as other locations that they operate in .They will simply shutter the mine site. Then what do you have? Inuit are entitled to benefit as the land lord. But they also need to be fair and deliver on their side of the agreement?4

    Inuit need the jobs and Nunavut over all needs to show that is a business friendly environment. So that ather companies will help develop the economy.

    • Posted by oh ima on

      It’s not out of India= one of original investors was an Indian immigrant or son of immigrant who owned ArciliMartel in England and another trust company out of US.
      Everyone has a role to play in ensuring Inuit participate in the mining sector! BAffinland creates the opportunities (jobs),
      Government, Nunavut Arctic College and Inuit Organization to provide support for people that want to work in the mining industry. Unforntunatley there so many messed situation that INuit can’t seem to participate in the economy including institional racism, poverty and messed up education created by southerns not Inuit because it’s non inuit in the end that put the system together!
      Only when we confront those issues will Inuit ever get a chance to particpate properly

  5. Posted by Fact Checker on

    Are they systematically turning away qualified Inuit applicants?
    What they should do is accept all applications, and if they are not qualified; then train them to a qualified status.

    Also I would like to know if this includes Inuit from other Regions.

    I agree about the headline. It should be..
    “Winnipegmiut Has Issue With Inuit Retention in North Baffin”

  6. Posted by A Trudeau hater on

    The headlines are so biased. The truth , Baffinland has done so much for Inuits.
    There is an apprenticeship program, thru get paid MORE than any other worker. However their contribution is less. They do not want to work.

    • Posted by CanYankee on

      Russian bot? Or just an ignoramus?

      Working on your grammar, syntax and punctuation may help you make your vulgar, racist, inane points.

  7. Posted by Jerimiah on

    When you hire people who don’t show up for work on time or even at all you hire people who do. I want to hire other inuk but most dont want to work or stop showing up after a few weeks.

  8. Posted by marcus J on

    Rather than always blaming the employers (whether public or private) for failing to meet the expected numbers of Inuit employment, why not actually address the elephant in the room and call a spade a spade. It is the Inuit who are failing to meet the basic requirements to get the jobs and/or keep them. NTI and such orgs need to focus on improving the human resources through education, training ..etc to reach the minimal requirements rather than blaming employers for not meeting the unreasonable quotas considering what is available in the market.

  9. Posted by Eric Edward Schultz on

    Your going to have to train more Inuit People to do those Baffinland Mine jobs!! And be more patient and understanding. Remember who’s backyard your in Baffinlamd!!! I dont care how big you think you are….. Remember how long baffinland took to start paying royalties to the Inuit???? Yeah check into that!!!!!!! They just got out of court not long ago and baffinland has been shipping iron ore out since 2015
    Their like big pigs just like any other large world corporation!!!!!!

  10. Posted by Cognitive Dissonance on

    Anytime a story runs about Inuit employment out come the same usual tropes and lamentations. It’s a conspiracy, its racism! I wonder how many of the people spewing the usual invective have ever been in the position to staff an organization of any size, let alone a large and complex one like this, out of the local population in Nunavut! Especially in the more northern communities? It’s an absolute challenge like no other. The dysfunction of our workforce is an issue that needs to properly accompany this discussion, because it is probably the most significant variable in this mess. But, let’s pretend it’s all a conspiracy, what a joke.

  11. Posted by A different question to pose on

    How about statistics of how many Inuit were hired then fired, missed their flights if they overnighted in Iqaluit and then got fired, quit of their own accord, didn’t like having to work each day and then quit…? I am not defending Baffinland – as they are like most other larger corporations and care not for the environment nor much of anything other than turning profits and having their execs line their own pockets.

  12. Posted by So Frustrating… on

    There are some important facts here on both sides that have been overlooked. First is that the 25% minimum Inuit Employment requirement was agreed upon by BOTH parties. Baffinland knew what would be required and signed on the dotted line anyway. Second is that non-Inuit workers at the mine have absolutely no idea what life in the north is like or how important Inuit culture is to everything Inuit do. This simple statement explains so much as to why Inuit choose to not return to the mines. Perhaps the focus needs to shift from get all we can as much as we can to one that values, respect, and supports the first people of this land and the fact that iron ore or no iron ore is absolutely irrelevant to the great majority of Inuit. Can the rest of the world say the same? So who really wins or loses in this deal?

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