‘Mass layoffs’ could follow Baffinland’s notice to labour board
Approximately 1,300 jobs could be at stake at territory’s largest mine; ‘we need to be ready,’ says cabinet minister
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp., has taken a formal step toward laying off hundreds of workers at its Mary River mine.
The company filed a notice with the Nunavut Labour Standards Compliance Office on Friday, Baffinland spokesperson Peter Akman told Nunatsiaq News in an email Monday.
“This wasn’t a choice we were eager to make, we have been actively trying to avoid this situation,” Akman said.
The move sets the stage for the mining company to possibly lay off more than 1,300 of its workers from its iron mine located in northern Baffin Island, near the end of September. At least 209 of those employees are Inuit.
Baffinland works with contractors, who employ another 400 workers. Their jobs are also at stake.
The move comes after Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal’s June 1 rejection of Baffinland chief executive officer Brian Penney’s May 26 request for an emergency order to allow the company to ship six million tonnes of iron ore in 2022, rather than the 4.2 million tonnes allowed under its current permit.
Sixteen weeks after the notice is filed, Baffinland will be in a position to start issuing layoff notices to employees, depending on where staff work at the Mary River mine, Akman said.
However, submitting this notice to the labour office does not mean employees will be laid off immediately at that point, or at all, Akman said.
He said it’s a legal step in the process that allows the Nunavut government “time to prepare for the significant harm caused by mass layoffs and to avoid such layoffs as possible.”
But, he said, Baffinland is open to working with the territorial government and others to “reduce the negative impacts on employees.”
The next steps for the company will be to work quickly with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association in an “accelerated” Nunavut Impact Review Board process, aimed at increasing the shipping limit to six million tonnes.
“It is our hope that the expedited NIRB process, which the Minister is encouraging, will close the gap between Baffinland and the QIA, resulting in a mutually beneficial agreement,” Akman said.
He said the company is “encouraged” that QIA voted to allow its executive committee to work with Baffinland and the federal government on the problem at hand.
Kyle Allen, a spokesperson for Vandal, said no meeting has been scheduled yet between the three parties.
“Working together with all parties is the only way this issue gets resolved and we are optimistic that through open dialogue and collaboration we will keep workers employed,” Allen wrote in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
QIA could not be reached for comment.
Mike Gallagher, the business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793 — the union that represents Baffinland workers — said he is disappointed with the situation and is still hoping layoffs can be avoided.
In an interview with Nunatsiaq News, Gallagher said the union has the ability to offer job training to support laid-off employees, but added that’s not the preferred outcome.
“We really would like to see this whole thing cleared up as quickly as possible, and the fastest way to do that, I think, is to have the minister approve the emergency application,” he said.
Gallagher said he wants QIA, Baffinland and the federal government to get together to save the jobs.
Coming off a difficult pandemic, and having employees being concerned about their future and the future of the mine is not healthy, he said.
“Summer is upon us, we would like to be able to have our members not working under a cloud, not knowing what the outcome is going to be.”
Gallagher said employee voices are not being heard by regulators or decision-makers.
“We just feel that, in spite of all of our efforts … the voices aren’t being heard. The members clearly want the mine work to continue,” he said.
Nunavut Economic Development and Transportation Minister David Akeeagok said his department is ready to prepare for layoffs.
Now that it’s filed, Baffinland’s notice to the labour board gives his department a clearer date that it must brace for, Akeeagok said, speaking with reporters at the legislative assembly Monday.
“Whenever there’s massive layoffs, as a government we need to be ready,” Akeeagok said, adding that as Quttiktuq MLA he’s wondering where his own constituents who work at the mine will find work if they are laid off.
As an example of what the GN will do to help laid-off employees, Akeeagok mentioned the career development program the Family Services Department operates.
Tununiq MLA Karen Nutarak, whose riding includes Pond Inlet, the community closest to the mine, said she needed time to review the notice but that she feels for both the hunters in her community and the residents who are employed at the mine.
“I’m in the middle,” she said, adding “I just feel sorry for the Inuit staff who are going to face financial situations.”
With files from Emma Tranter
No worries folks, the Nuluujaat Land Guardians can cover the lost wages
Yaay back to welfare state and stay home get free money like the olden days
Well for everyone who was convinced that Baffinland was just blowing smoke and playing games, maybe now you realize how serious this is. 1700 people without a job and of those over 300 Inuit from communities where they can not afford to live without a good income. Country food will not help them survive, and welfare is not enough to live off of. For everyone who thought that Baffinland was just pretending, this is very real now, and official notice has been filed to lay off 1700 people plus. Back to a complete welfare state. Shameful when you consider the super small footprint that Baffinland actually has in this massive territory.
It’s unfortunate that people will lose their jobs.
That being said, it’s also in the nature of mines to close down. Every single mine in this country will eventually shut down and then hopefully be remediated.
So we need to remember that mining jobs are never ‘safe’ and also do not last, and are subject to market conditions which can change frequently and drastically.
Closed down because of the idiots who are opposed to the mining in Pond Inlet. Them spineless politicians are also useless.
Unfortunately, all who work at Baffinland will have to realize very soon that this mine might close it’s door forever. Maybe think about this..many people will be unemployed and that during these already difficult times economically all over the world.
Hope the tide will turn for everyone soon.
forever? nah there is to much money there to close forever.
The Chinese and the Russians do a lot of mining. They would just need to be convinced that the community would be more supportive of their mine management than the community has been with the current owners. Easy enough right?
Then with new Chinese or Russian ownership, employees would be treated fairly, the community would prosper, and amazing international green technology would be utilized because the Russians and Chinese are closet environmentalists that would prioritize any and all community environmental impact concerns.
Be careful what you wish for…
Those who think there is a long line of potential buyers for the mine in light of the community pushback should think through that. And would the community want those buyers anyway?
I’m all for green technology, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Do the so-called “land defenders” and NIRB plan on putting food on the table for the families that their eco-colonialism put out of work?
Calvin Helin, a renowned BC Indigenous entrepreneur, author and lawyer, has documented this rise of “eco-colonialism,” where environmentalists funded by large foreign foundations target Indigenous communities and support local elements that are opposed to resource development.
It is clear baffinland is the one to blame for possible layoffs. They didn’t apply back to have 6 million tonnes because they assumed they were gonna be approved for 12 million tonnes. If they just applied for permit before the deadline, this would’ve never happen. It feels like baffinland want to blame everyone else but themselves for doing this to themselves.
Actually…. within the Phase 2 proposal there was an increase to 6 million tonnes per year within it for a number of years during construction. NIRB could have approved just that portion and not the rest but they didn’t. You seem to think that if Baffinland had just applied for the 6 million tonnes on its own earlier, NIRB would have given it a breezy approval and everything would be fine now.
We are seeing that this isn’t the case as Baffinland is still having to fight for 6 million tonnes and neither the QIA, NIRB, the minister of INAC or the GN seem to be coming out to say… “yes. let’s give Baffinland the increase to 6 million per year”. It seems to me that even if they had applied, we would still be in the same situation. Maybe… just maybe there are some other people, besides Baffinland, that need to get their act together and fight for development, jobs, tax revenue, etc… in the north.
I hear lot of comments touting no need for development and that Inuit can rely on traditional and cultural ways of living. Those are certainly important things but not everyone in the north wants to be living in the past like the “Amish of the north”, relying on hunting and seal skin clothing to survive. Those are wonderful parts of history and culture but Inuit and the north are not some museum piece. They should have the opportunity to grow and advance with the rest of the world and share in the same jobs, technology, access to education and healthcare, etc….
Baffinlands plan is to have little money going to Inuit workers. laying off 200 Inuit because baffinland didn’t do its work by applying for the permit for 6 million tonnes. and now that they are in this situation, they are going to say that it is Inuit orgs, NIRB or INAC ministers fault that there are not jobs for Inuit. they are trying to get the rail going because majority of the Inuit workers are Inuit. if the rail starts, a lot of the drivers will be laid off. I’m sorry but you are not trained or qualified to work anymore. all this time, they are trying to make money as quick as possible before the cost of ore goes down, and get out as soon as possible.
Ore haul truck drivers going down the Tote Road become miners in the pit. You don’t go from mining 6mt to 12Mt without increasing your mining crew big time. Your story that the rail gets rid of jobs is incorrect. There are more Inuit working in the mine than are driving ore haul trucks down the Tote Road.
What makes you think NIRB could do that? If you look at the law they have to follow, they could recommend the project as it was described during the review should or should not proceed. They can’t pick and choose parts of a project that can go forward and parts that can’t. They do not have (quite rightly) that authority, so you’re blaming them for not doing something they are legally completely unable to do.
Im saying baffinland will blame everyone else who make the decision. It was their job to apply for the 6 million permit. if they dont get what they want, they will blame others. how many times have they said that the mine will close down if phase 2 is not approved? how many times have they say workers will be laid off? they cant get what they want so they have to find ways to make it sound like they are suffering. they are making millions of dollars each day.
I don’t think you understand what eco-colonialism is. Eco-colonialism is the occupation of a land that is not yours and degradating the ecology. The land defenders are not proponents of eco-colonialism. In fact, they are the opposites. They are typically indigenous folks occupying their lands to be stewards of its ecology according to their legal orders and cultural heritage. NIRB is definitely complicit in eco-colonialism as it is a colonially developed office that is more concerned often times with gaining money in the form of royalties and IIBAs for Inuit folks’ short term well being rather than what Inuit folks generally desire which is typically either their land to be h disturbed or to find a middle ground.
Presumptuous comment in that you pretend to speak for all Inuit, historically daft as to the origins of NIRB, which is part of the Nunavut Agreement.
Did you just imagine these things into being?
Congratulations to Nulujaat Land Guardians (Angels) for your help to reduced the pollution of our beautiful land. They say money can’t buy happiness. They say animals will extinct in our future so I suggested the baffinland to wait until animals to get extinct and do whatever you want after. We won’t starved without the mine and we never did even before the mine started.
Food prices are expected to rise worldwide starting next year.
This is a no joke.
Poorer communities would be hit hard without employment.
Our municipal governments are poor, they only hire sewage truck helpers.
It shouldn’t be long. with the over hunting occurring (from these Angels), those animals will be extinct soon and then these Angels can beg the mining company to come back.
Congrats to all the activists, artists, poets and other luddites in the Iqaluit coffee scene. You accomplished something remarkable here. Don’t wait too long to write a movie or two about your heroism in all this.
By submitting mass layoff paperwork this also means there will be no severance pay it’s a way for the company to get out of paying it …. A way to save $$$
Kinda like not paying time and a half for worked stat days …. Someone should look deeper into this one !!!!
Inuit in Pond maybe able to feed their families with their traditional healthy food for a change this summer. What a nice change it will be after being denied their source of food with all the shipping activity. There is no emergency and governments have programs to cover employees during the seasonal shutdown of any activity. It is called Employment Insurance, cut the the crap of going on welfare. Baffinland the drama should be a tv show already!
Yes they can finally hunt the traditional way, using traditional boats and atv’s fueled by traditional gas motors and traditional savage brand rifles all earned thanks to an honest days work at the mine. Oh? Anyway back to playing PubG.
Narwhal are an ice dependent species. Whether or not shipping occurs in the Baffin Bay area, the narwhal still need to follow the ice. The Canadian Ice Service predicts that in the summer of 2022, it will be down to zero ice cover with some bergs in Pond and Navy Board Inlets by July 29th, going to zero ice cover in Admiralty Inlet by August 10, and only bergy water in the eastern sections of Lancaster Sound by July 11th. Hopefully there are narwhals still left around Baffin Bay that are not being slaughtered by killer whales, but chances are, no. If people see that narwhals continue to migrate farther northwest of Lancaster Sound even without shipping, people should mark this knowledge.
What a scare craze.
Most of the 209 Inuit employees are likely from the five closest communities, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Clyde River. The total population of those five communities is 5489 in 2021 according to Statistics Canada. That is 4% of the population that will become unemployed.
Baffinland makes it sound like this will be a major disruption to those communities. 209 is 19% of 1300. What is the total percentage of Inuit working at the mine? Is this a representation of the total Inuit workforce? That is a pitiful number of Inuit working at the mine if it is. The higher amount of extraction from Baffinland’s mine will be hat the mine will close that much earlier.
Are the Inuit going to give in to this pressure for these pitiful numbers? I hope not!!!
In the article, 209 is the direct Baffinland employees. There are another 400 contractors. The contractors includes a lot of Inuit as they are Inuit companies that the company hires such as the catering and housekeeping group. The number of Inuit is much higher. And… if you even keep it at 209 and an average of $100K per employee. that is over $20 million of income directly within the community. At 400 employees that is $40 million. It may be a small percentage of the five communities but it is a huge percentage of the income to those communities.
How many of the 209 and 400 are making $100K a year?
What house keeper at the mine is making $100K?
Also the contractors, you think all the jobs by a contractor are Inuit? no i bet at least a few of the contractors are only 51% Inuit owned, but then who they hire is who ever they want, not necessarily Inuit or even from Nunavut. and even sub-contracted to southern companies, just like with GN tenders.
When you include northern allowance and pensions (yes pension plans), it probably isn’t too far off the $100K.
And for those Inuit companies that aren’t hiring Inuit workers, speak to the QIA… they are the owners of the QC companies providing those services. Totally agree that they have some work to do as well.
Why don’t you ask the 4 percent and see what they have to say?
The numbers are a little pitiful. Why do you think that is, Silas?
Inuit make up 80% to 90% of the population in Nunavut and in those communities it is probably even higher. Yet 50% to 70% of those jobs in those communities are not Inuit. They are also the highest paid employees.
It is the same at the mine, Inuit working at the mine are at the lowest paid positions. People who are not of Nunavut are raking in the money and very little of it is staying in Nunavut where the ores are coming from.
A good example that we see in every community in Nunavut, not looking at the mine, teachers, who teach as couples in every single community in Nunavut, gross a quarter million dollars a year. They have nice houses and probably even nicer houses in their home communities down south.
The mine employs mostly people who are from outside the community, who probably haven’t even seen the closest communities that they work at; they completely bypass those communities and don’t spend a penny in Nunavut.
Think about that: all the money being made by each of those employees goes directly directly south compared to pennies that they leave in Nunavut.
Well, looks like there is the rationale for local students to get an education. It’ll take six years minimum to become a secondary school teacher. Get the grade 12 students started on it and some will be ready by 2030.
I am 65 years old, have lived in my community all of my life except for the times I left to receive an education (residential school). I have some university and college diplomas and certificates, two daughters who have university degrees. I have watched how my community has developed. I see my community begin to be controlled by my people; it is very encouraging to see how Inuit have received higher education and begin to take control of its development. I believe that must continue.
Get out there and spread the word to the kids and more importantly their parents because far too many of our students don’t have the ambition you did in your day.
I think you may be comparing the wrong things in order to gauge how bad these lay offs might be. You are comparing the total population of the north baffin to how many Inuit work at this project. Instead, compare the potential lay offs to the number of full time independent harvesters. As we all know, everything else in a Nunavut community is dependent on government support, which means it only exists as far as southern Canadian taxpayers are willing to allow it to exist. Plus, the number of people making a direct living from the land is low and precious. So, someone who can support themselves from the land (harvesting or mining) is critical new income coming in for the community. The public has shown its concern over the hunters and their families. It would seem just as fair to be as concerned with the fate of other Inuit that are making a living off the land also, without government money, but in a different way.
-You may want to rethink the way you are throwing numbers around Silas.
209 employees at 5 (maybe) members in the family equals 1045 people with no source of income.
Now lets add the reduction in business to Northern and Arctic coop and other contractors. Hmm! How many staff are they going to have to lay off? And how many family members does that affect?
Let’s not consider any of the money dropped in the communities, the money to QIA, etc, etc.
No more money for housing, no more money for hunting equipment, atv s, boats, snowmobiles. No more money for cars/trucks.
Less money for the children’s food on the table.
Yeah, let’s get rid of the mining companies for scaring off whales. No caribou – they changed their migration route long before Baffinland came around and those that did stick around were over-hunted.
You can thank your MP for not standing up for you as well.
Response to Silas….4% employment is a difference maker..better than welfare..do the math…24% of the ecomomy is nothing too in a territory that is under developed jobs are scarce…leadership is action…not silence…also what 80 million to qia is nothing…..how is this going to affect Bathurst area projects…is this going to dry up investment..hard working people of nu will pay the price…not the bourgeoisie inuits they have Ottawa bottom less pit to fall back on…a happy medium needs to be found to create balance and jobs…
Inuit need to become educated and develop the land the way they see fit, not by people who will be here for a period of ten or twenty years. Inuit will always live here, they have nowhere else to go. Once those ores are extracted, that’s it, no more.
Agnico Eagle Mines just north of Baker Lake are making plans to close the gold mine there as they have nearly extracted all the gold. That is after fourteen years. What will the people who were working there do now? Will Baffinland hire them? There are some very good heavy equipment operators who will be out of work, excellent housekeepers, kitchen helpers, custodians. Were any trained as millwrights, geologists, managers of mines?
There were whole communities in the Northwest Territories that existed because there was a mine there: Port Radium, where they mined uranium, Pine Point, and Tungsten. They no longer exist and they left a mess in those places that the government ended up having to clean for millions of dollars. In fact there is one in Nunavut, Nanisivik was a thriving community just outside of Arctic Bay. The mine left a humungous hole there, mind you Arctic Bay now has a nice airstrip 13 km away.
Look at the bigger picture Inuit, send your children to colleges, universities. Education is the key to the success of Inuit today.
Every natural resource extractive industry in the country is like this. This is nothing unique to Nunavut. Communities that depend on those industries (thinking of you Sudbury or Glace Bay) know the score – enjoy the good times for 30 years or 100 year, but always make your economic plan B.
Nunavut communities are no different.
That is exactly what I am saying. However, let the people (Inuit) decide when and by whom the extraction takes place. That could very well be twenty or thirty years from now but it will be at the discretion of the people who live here, not temps.
Inuit were in Nunavut were introduced to “civilized” society and began learning English in schools less than a hundred years ago. They have come this far in 65 years or less. In that time there have been thousands of southerners who have come and gone, while the same Inuit are still here and buried here.
I thank those people who have come and gone to help Inuit in Nunavut but I believe it is up to Inuit to decide how and when Nunavut will be developed. This is their homeland.
You’re not wrong on anything you say, but Nunavummiut will always be subject to economic forces outside of our control, always.
We have to learn to adapt to that, and we’re not.
As the old saying goes, “When the US sneezes, Canada catches a cold”. That could easily be adapted to Nunavut.
Unfortunately, Inuit do not and never will have control over the world economy that would allow them to fully decide when resources can be developed. If the gold price dropped to $400 an ounce (as an example) there would not be any gold mining in Nunavut no matter if Inuit were fully trained and could fill 100% of the positions at a gold mine, the communities were behind it, and it could be done with minimal negative impacts.
Yard sales coming up at discounted prices due to lay offs lol
Let us welcome back the BIM workers that get laid off, our hamlets need hard working people and more drivers for the trucks in town, lets get some competition in town so our kids realize they have to work hard and show up every day to get any job.
Great! Lets see Pond Inlet here 200 plus truck drivers! That sounds like a reasonable solution indeed!
Southerners have many other job options in other provinces, Good luck to the local communities in Baffin Island
What did y’all think was going to happen? That Baffinland would simply throw their hands in the air and accept the fact that they would be running a billion dollar mining enterprise at a loss? Not likely! And for those of you who say that it only affects 200 or so Inuit in the North Baffin, think again! How many contracts went to Inuit owned firms? What was NTI and QIA collecting from Baffinland in royalties, leases and IIBA payments on an annual basis? How many Inuit were employed in ancillary and support services that relied on the mine for their livelihood. The impact of a shutdown will be massive and far reaching.
This is bitter sweet. You see it in these comments and everyone you talk to, it’s divided reactions, including myself. Having lived in Pond and through the North, this will have both a positive and negative impact. Southerners who people who live outside Pond will often only look at the financial impact.
A positive impact for marine mammals and animals around Pond and Inuit hunters / campers / kids. A large negative impact on the financial implications this brings (direct to the employees losing jobs and their families, to the revenue it brings to GN, QIA, & Pond). This impact will be even tougher as prices of everything is going up. It’s funny I don’t see an increase in the amount of social assistance people get while basic living expenses increase.
It’s funny I don’t see an increase in the amount of social assistance people get while basic living expenses increase.
It’s not funny, it just won’t happen.
Working stiffs don’t see their wages raised due to inflation and certainly are not willing to pay more taxes to generate more revenue so the non-working stiffs are protected from inflation.
Remember, with the departure of Baffinland, Nunavut revenues will go down.
“A positive impact for marine mammals and animals around Pond and Inuit hunters / campers / kids…”
Those animals are going right into the stewpot. Let’s not pretend that sustenance hunting and fishing are going to stay at the current (already too-high) levels, instead of going higher yet as people are forced to turn to the land to eat. Already in the south we’ve seen a solid 25% increase in fuel and food costs, and it’s only going to get worse. At least with jobs and wealth flowing into the community, something positive might have happened.
Does anybody care about an iron mine at the top of the world,nobody cares,subsistence hunting, nobody cares, look at the major issues up there,let’s stop the only outside dollars, up there.the government of Canada has you where they want you, poor, and begging for everything .colonialism, is alive and well up there.
Yeah, lets all have a crying fit together!
Billion dollars leave this area every 3 years. I wonder where the crying is coming from?
I’m glad people can defend with all their hearts. I’m glad and there’s many more like me that are glad. If you would’ve went with likes here in NunatsiaqNews then you would’ve thought that Liberals would win in Nunavut.
Likes or not I’m not sold on these likes!
Seems like extortion to me. Please correct me if I’m wrong but asking for the higher tonnage and then not getting it……then notice to layoff….but if you give them what they want maybe they won’t lay-off?
If you don’t give me what I want i’m taking your livelihoods away!
I Imagine Baffinland has enough workforce to mine and ship 6M by the summer. They probably already have 4.2M tons ready to ship out. If they don’t get the extension, there is no point continuing to accumulate ore to ship by summer 2022. At the same time, if they keep the same # of workforce, they will run into the same problem in 2023 where they accumulate their shipping limit well before they ship it out. It is better to have a smaller workforce mining 4.2 at a constant rate throughout the year rather than a larger workforce mining 6 but having to stop once they hit their limit.
No Anne, not extortion at all.
I worked for Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg from 1980 to 1988
In 1987, Bristol responded to a call for proposals for the F18 maintenance contract.
Bristol carried over 1200 employees for over a year with no contracts and assumed they would be awarded the contract based on the numbers.
Unfortunately, regardless that they had a better bid and the lowest cost, the government awarded the contract to a nameless firm in Montreal.
Bristol carried 1200 employees for a year and lost the bid,
They laid off all 1200 and kept them on full salary for anywhere from 3 to 6 months after.
Perhaps Baffinland cannot afford salaries for 6 months, but don’t cry extortion, cry to your MP who is out to lunch in her support of the so-called land defenders.
Tell all the people who will be affected (thousands) by this political ludicrousness.
Tell that to the kids who are going to be hungry next school year.
People assume that Baffinland was making money. They are actually running on a deficit. They are losing money every second the mine is running. They needed a production increase to put them in the green. They make money on iron ore mined for sure, but less than the cost of operations (very expensive to keep everything going). They needed this increase, it would have help them sell enough ore to get out of the hole they are currently in. I’m fairly certain even 6 million tonnes wouldn’t have been enough to make it worth it.
They needed assurances that the could produce enough (not just to cut even, but to start making money). They are currently hundreds of millions in the hole. It is unreasonable to think they should keep running like that. It isn’t the case of wanting to lay people off, but having too. Also, laying people off doesn’t mean they are necessarily done mining, they don’t want to lose their investment. I think they will lay off people and continue to work through getting their production increase approved. Once/if they get approval, they will be willing to hire people and get it moving again.
Just a side note, I’m not for or against the regulator decision. This doesn’t mean Baffinland isn’t going to try and work through still getting this approved. It just means that If they want to mine in Nunavut, they need to make sure they are doing it in a correct manner. If Baffinland pursues this further, they have to work through any issues presented and show how they will mitigate concerns.
Anne… it is in no way extortion. It is not Baffinland saying “if I don’t get what I want, I am going to layoff these people”. It is Baffinland saying “if I don’t get what I need to make a profit, I am going to go out of business”. A company operating at a loss is not a business that can sustain itself.