Thunder Bay

Booming mining sector creates worker shortage

The mayor of Red Lake says the town has a history of bringing in foreign workers in boom times and that history is now repeating itself.

Not uncommon for Red Lake to bring in foreign workers, mayor says

The mayor of Red Lake says the town has a history of bringing in foreign workers in boom times and that history is now repeating itself.

Phil Vinet says the gold mine is hiring every available worker in town. That leaves some local businesses, like the new Tim Hortons, looking farther afield for employees. Vinet says the service sector is important to the town, and the municipality is doing what it can to help.

"First of all, we have to make sure we have the labour market or labour pool to draw from," Vinet said.

"Then we have to accommodate these folks once they do get to Red Lake."

Business leaving town

At least one business owner told Red Lake's mayor he left town because he couldn't find enough people to work for him.

Vinet said an auto parts store closed up shop recently — not for a lack of customers, but a shortage of people to serve those customers.

Vinet says the town's gold mine has employed nearly every available person, and he said he's hoping Goldcorp might help develop a new subdivision with the town.

Nevertheless, the shortage of people available for work has been hard on other businesses. Vinet says nearly every store in town would like to hire at least one more employee.

"The service industry is … a pretty integral part of any community's economy and we're not different," Vinet said.

"We need a good service industry."

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