IOC connected to recent Labrador West suicides: health minister

There have been five suicides in the past eight months in the Labrador West region, Health Minister John Haggie says.

5 suicides in the last 8 months in the region, minister says

There have been five suicides in the past eight months in the Labrador West region, Health Minister John Haggie says.

There have been five suicides in the past eight months in the Labrador West region, Health Minister John Haggie says.

Haggie told the House of Assembly on Thursday afternoon that more mental health resources are on the way to the communities, following the suicides in the region.

According to the health minister, the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) is bringing in extra counselling resources as well as working to examine its workplace environment.

"There is a link with IOC, in that most of the people involved recently have been employees there," Haggie said.

"The last 3 of the 5 were young people who not surprisingly worked at IOC, whether that's a connection or not is open to question."

IOC is a major employer in the region, which has about 10,000 people.

In April 2015, the company sent layoff notices to 150 of about 1,400 unionized workers. In November, the company laid off 44 employees at its pellet plant as it reduced production there because of slumping iron prices.

Haggie said he has no idea whether the economic turmoil in the region, including the closure of Wabush Mines may be contributing to the issue, saying at this point that would be speculation.

Wabush flagged concern: Steve Kent

According to Progressive Conservative MHA Steve Kent, the Town of Wabush wrote the Department of Health to ask for help with the suicide issue.

Haggie says he has been in touch with mayors from the region, and is organizing a meeting.

He said more counsellors are on the way to Labrador West, and residents in the area can also use the province's mental health crisis line.