Efforts underway to recruit hundreds of mine workers in the Timmins, Ont., area

The Mining Industry Human Resource Council says Canada's mining sector will experience a great need for workers in the next few years, especially those skilled in the trades.

In northern Ontario, officials said hundreds of mining jobs will be need filling in the next two years.

Timmins, known throughout the world as a mining hub, is currently experiencing a boom. Mayor George Pirie said an example of that is the money Glencore is spending to look at extending the life of its Kidd Mine: $50 million in the next year for feasibility studies to be completed by the fourth quarter.

“Very positive for the mine, of course, and very positive for the City of Timmins,” Pirie said.

With the variety of projects underway and new mining companies setting up shop in town and the surrounding area, there is a desperate need for workers.

“We’ve surveyed employers about the next two years and they’re telling us even in two years across northern Ontario --over a thousand jobs," Christine Heavens, executive director, community, business development and employment services at Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology.

Glencore officials said they alone are in need of 60 employees next year.

"Looking at fields of trades, some operational roles -- both at the mine and metallurgical site -- as well as professionals fields such as engineering," said Mark Furlotte, mine general manager of Glencore's Kidd Mine operations.

Officials with Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) said immigration is key to filling the gaps.

"Employers have to understand that it’s a different environment than it was 10, even five years ago," said Noella Rinaldo, director of community economic development.

"They have to be. Recruitment and retention is a very important part of their industry. They are a people industry and they have to really work at hiring the right employees and keeping them."

Harder to find employees

An immigration support officer with the TEDC said the COVID-19 pandemic has also made it harder for employers to find employees.

"So I think immigration is the solution right now to overcome the labour shortage needs and the Rural Northern Immigration Pilot Program is a tool that employers can use to address the labour market needs," said Gunab Singh.

In the coming weeks, the TEDC is launching a free online program called 'Northstar,' which will invite skilled workers across the globe who are cleared to work in Ontario to submit their resumes.

"We’ve approached it with creating like a general job description for a certain sector so that we can really create a large pool of skilled international workers so that we can then match them best with employers who are looking to fill those job vacancies," said Lynn Michaud, project coordinator for the Timmins Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).

In partnership with Northern College, the Sioux Lookout Mining Centre of Excellence offers a program unique in Ontario and open to anyone.

“A program called 'Future Focus' which is ... (an) online ... readiness program that people ... if qualified, they can go through this two-week program," said Jake Dockstator, executive director of the Sioux Lookout Friendship Accord Economic.

"They have one-on-one time with councillors at Northern College who help find them the right place ... for the highest chance of success."

Mine officials like Furlotte agreed that Timmins is doing a good job of diversifying its population and added that creating a good quality of life is also important as individuals are not only choosing their employers, they're also choosing the communities they wish to reside in with their families.