The training and employment needs of northern Saskatchewan is on the agenda as the Northern Labour Market Committee holds two days of meetings starting today at Eagle Point Resort just outside of La Ronge.

A slowdown in the uranium industry has forced the layoffs of approximately 850 employed at Cameco’s McArthur River mine. The Cigar Lake operation will continue to operate though this year, with the milling to occur at the McLean Lake operation.

Glen Strong is the community relations and training coordinator for Points Athabasca, he says the shutdown of the mine, is a further indication that the north needs to diversify its economy.

“We got to diversify. We’re talking about diversification. How do we get involved with the oil and gas industry?” said Strong.

During the two days of meetings, delegates will receive reports on training needs and filling the gaps in employment and current labour challenges.

However, despite the downturn in jobs, Strong says he is seeing positivity in other industries.

“We’re going through a bit of lull right now. Of course we’ve had a drop in the mineral sector, with the slowdown in the uranium mines,” said Strong. “I think that what we’re seeing is that SaskPower is doing a lot of work in developing some of their sites, so we’re focusing on that. Exploration is still going fairly good. So, we’re going to do some discussion on that and how we get involved.”

Strong also points to the healthcare sector as a continued driver of northern employment. He says during the lean working periods, education will be crucial to improving conditions, as he wants to see the education gap between the north and the south close.

(PHOTO: Northern Labour Market Committee logo. Photo courtesy of KCDC.)