Tlicho gov't needs policy to keep local work in hands of local tradespeople, contractors say

Some Behchoko contractors watch workers from outside the community travel in and take work they say they are qualified to do because the Tlicho government has no formal policy favouring local contractors.

Tlicho gov’t has no formal business incentive program to help local contractors win projects

The community of Behchoko celebrated the opening of a new senior's home this year, but some local contractors say they are left out of construction opportunities, partly because the Tlicho government has no formal policy in place to encourage local hiring. (Marc Winkler/CBC)

Michael Lafferty is a certified electrician in Behchoko, N.W.T., and owns a contracting company, but most of his work takes him away from home.

It's not that there is no work in Behchoko. He says part of the problem is the Tlicho government has no incentive policy favouring local contractors over contractors from outside the community.

As for work in the community, we don't have any by-law to benefit us as Tlicho private businesses.- Michael Lafferty

"With these jobs we have to compete with companies from Yellowknife who come here to do work," Lafferty said.

"As for work in the community, we don't have any by-law to benefit us as Tlicho private businesses."

The government of the Northwest Territories has a business incentive program that favours qualified, Northern contractors and suppliers over out-of-territory competitors. No such policy exists within the Tlicho government that would give advantages to Tlicho contractors.

Lafferty has attended Tlicho leadership meetings and has called for a new incentive policy at public forums, hoping for a change, but feels he isn't getting heard.

​"If there is an incentive or policy procedure to benefit private business, the community will grow. This will create a tax revenue which would come back to Tlicho government," Lafferty said.

'Preference to our people'

Chief Clifford Daniels said he's heard repeatedly that the Tlicho government should come up with a new business incentive policy for Tlicho contractors. But when and if that will happen, he did not say.

Behchoko Chief Clifford Daniels says that although the Tlicho government has no formal policy favouring local contractors, it does try to give preference to local tradespeople. (Garrett Hinchey/CBC)

Daniels said the Tlicho government does try to "give preference to our people," but he is aware some in the community are not happy with the status quo.

Daniels said, "If we come up with this new policy, then our people will be first to be hired when it comes to jobs." 

​Until then, Lafferty said he'll continue to see what he sees "mostly every day."

"We have a company coming in, driving in from Yellowknife, going to [Behchoko], to do basic electrical work."

With files from Juanita Taylor and John Gon