After many weeks of no response, on Friday September 20th UCTE RVP Teresa Eschuk and PSAC REVP Marianne Hladun had a teleconference with Minister Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
Minister Bains was in Churchill, Manitoba to announce a $4.6 million investment in both short and long-term economic development for the community.
“It is great to have UCTE/PSAC, the union that represents the Port workers, finally get acknowledgment as an important stakeholder,” said Teresa Eschuk. Also during the call, the mayor of Churchill, Mike Spence committed to including the Union in discussions with the northern delegation committee who are also working to minimize the impact of the closure of the port.
On August 8th, approximately 60 members, some of whom were not back at work yet for the season, were effectively laid off when Omnitrax Inc., the employer, announced its decision to close the Port of Churchill early for the season. By this action, 10% of the town’s population became unemployed.
“It’s been tough on the community,” said Marianne Hladun. “People are having to weigh their options – whether to stay and tough it out or leave their homes to find a job.”
The Union is grateful for the announcement but hopes that government knows this is only the first step in the process of securing this community’s future. “We still believe that making the Port of Churchill a port authority would help strengthen the long-term economic prospect of Churchill itself.”
UCTE/PSAC released a paper outlining why a port authority would be a strategic and economic benefit to the community of Churchill Manitoba.