OmniTrax under fire in Churchill after company closes port
Residents worry how northern Manitoba town can recover from job losses
Churchill residents met with Flin Flon MLA Tom Lindsey on Thursday to discuss the closure of the Port of Churchill and how it will impact the local economy.
Nikki Clace has a tattoo of Churchill's location on her arm and wants to stay here. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a> <a href="https://t.co/qGvowx9hiO">pic.twitter.com/qGvowx9hiO</a>—@SKKav
CBC is in Churchill Thursday to find out how the town is coping with the news.
Some at Thursday's meeting expressed anger at port owner OmniTrax saying the town is "screwed," others demanded to know where the company spent millions of dollars in government subsidies. NDP MLA Lindsey said the town has to "stick together."
"It was sad. It was almost like somebody died, you know? It was so disheartening," Palmer said.
She said she worries if Churchill can recover from that big a hit.
"There's not enough jobs for everyone in town. There just isn't," said Palmer.
OmniTrax doesn't care: store manager
The manager of a general store in Churchill says the Denver-based company OmniTrax is not acting in the interest of northerners.
"It's union jobs. They pay good wages. In good years, the employees would get a lot of overtime," Borau said.
"When you lose that many good jobs all at once, it's definitely going to have an impact."
Along with the port layoffs, OmniTrax officials announced they are also cutting railway freight service to Churchill in half, a decision Borau called "unfair."
He worries the quality of food available in town will go down now that shipments to the community will be reduced from two to one shipment per week.
OmniTrax doesn't have a reason to care about Churchill, said Borau.
"It just seems to me to have an American corporation be responsible for northern residents just doesn't seem to add up," he said.
Borau hopes the government will step in to make sure Churchill continues to get regular rail shipments.
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Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday the province will not bailout OmniTrax in exchange for the company re-opening the Port of Churchill.
with files from Sean Kavanagh