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Northern lobby group worried about Cameco cuts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 11:19

Photo courtesy of cameco.com

A lobby group representing northern Saskatchewan municipalities says the Cameco decision to reduce its workforce by about 10 per cent, or 120 workers, will have a long-lasting and far-reaching impact on the North.

The Chair of New North, Bruce Fidler, says Cameco is the biggest employer in the north, and the workers who will lose their jobs are not left with many options.

"It’s very disappointing," he said. "You know being one of the largest employers in northern Saskatchewan, our residents really rely on Cameco and the different mines to sustain their lifestyle."

Fidler says he knew the uranium industry was going through difficult times, but he did not see this announcement coming.

"Well not really, you are always hopeful that something will come along or something will happen to correct the situation," he stated.

He adds, northerners are resilient, but it will be difficult to bounce back from this one. He expects the downsizing will have a ripple effect across the north, impacting secondary industries and even things like health care and education.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 11:27
Cameco planning 10% reduction in workforce at northern Sask. mines PDF Print E-mail
Written by mbcnews   
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 17:21

McArthur River mine.  Photo courtesy of cameco.com.

Cameco is planning to reduce its workforce at the McArthur River, Key Lake and Cigar Lake operations by about 10 per cent in the coming months, affecting 120 employees in total.

The company says the reduction is planned to be conducted in stages and expected to be completed by the end of May.

Cameco says affected employees will be offered exit packages that include transition assistance.

The company says the actions are intended to further reduce costs and improve efficiency at its uranium mining operations.

Cameco also plans to implement changes to the air commuter service by which employees and contract workers get to and from the mine and mill sites in northern Saskatchewan, as well as work schedule changes to achieve additional cost savings. The company says these changes will begin in April 2017 and are expected to be completed during 2018.

Cameco spokesman Gord Struthers says the changes include the dropping of pick up points at Beauval, La Loche and Ile a la Crosse. Workers from those communities are going to have to make their way to Buffalo Narrows or La Ronge in order to catch flights to the mine sites. Struthers says the change will affect roughly 100 employees from those communities.

"We regret the impact of these decisions on affected employees and other stakeholders," said president and CEO, Tim Gitzel, in a release. "These are necessary actions to take in a uranium market that has remained weak and oversupplied for more than five years. While it is positive that we are starting to see other producers announce their intent to reduce supply, we have not yet seen an actual reduction in supply. Ultimately, it will be the return of both term demand and term contracting in a significant way that will signal that market fundamentals have turned more positive. While we expect that this demand and term contracting will come to the market at some point, it has not yet happened. These operational changes are part of our strategy to help us effectively manage the company through these low times and remain competitive, while positioning the company to benefit as the market improves."

The workforce reduction and changes to air commuter service and work schedules planned at the Saskatchewan operations are not expected to impact production in 2017.

Cameco previously announced a four-week shutdown at the McArthur River, Key Lake and Cigar Lake operations slated for this summer.

Weak uranium prices forced Cameco to suspend production at its Rabbit Lake mine and mill last year, affecting 500 workers.

The company also reduced its workforce at its Saskatoon head office by 10 per cent.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 08:36
Special forum in Prince Albert teaches teens about treaty rights PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 16:59
The Treaty Relations Forum in Prince Albert. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

High school students from across Prince Albert Grand Council territory are getting a treaty education this week.

Schools in Sturgeon Lake, Black Lake, Lac La Ronge, James Smith, and Montreal Lake bands are among those who sent their students to the Treaty Relations Forum in Prince Albert.

Sturgeon Lake Central School student Shaheah Bird said she is learning that First Nations can look inwards to fix the many issues going on in their communities, and that non-First Nations people could benefit from this lesson.

"We don't get a lot of respect from other people," she said.

"They don't give me much respect because of where I come from... and we have a lot of history in our First Nations community, and they're just not educated. They should actually come down and see what we actually do in our communities because we do a lot of things. We help people, we come together, we have sweats."

Other students said they felt respect for Elders and for their peers were important points made at the forum.

Elder Billy Joe Sandypoint from Black Lake speaks. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

Elsa Roberts was responsible for lessons on the treaty right to government, which she said consists of legislating, making laws, and getting together to decide what is going to happen in a First Nation or in the community.

She spoke of the traditional Cree way of governing.

"It was families that selected a representative who the family gave their authority to to make decisions on their behalf," Roberts said.

Both Red Earth and James Smith have done this, where the "ones that were selected by their family would sit in council. They were the ones that made the legislature," she said.

"I beg your pardon if I hurt your feelings: we have no government, we have no First Nations government. What we do have are administrations."

Elsa Roberts at the forum. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

Roberts encouraged the hundred or so people at the forum to seek ways to use these methods in modern times because "the basic principles, the basic foundation does not change. We still have to learn how to get along with each other and we still have to practice those values that we say are Cree and Dene."

The agenda for the rest of the week includes creating a PAGC task team on fiscal relations between First Nations and the feds.

The forum started on Monday and is running until Thursday.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 17:17
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