Thunder Bay

Mining town coffee shop hires foreign workers

Eight workers from the Phillipines are on their way to a small mining town 600 km northwest of Thunder Bay to work at Tim Hortons.

Owner of Red Lake Tim Hortons doubts new EI rules would help him find enough employees

Eight workers from the Philippines are on their way to a small mining town 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay to work at Tim Hortons.

The owner of the Red Lake coffee shop, Ron Parks, said he hired the foreign workers after nearly a year of trying to find locals who wanted to work for a few dollars more than minimum wage.

"The reason the town is booming obviously is because of the gold mine," Parks said. "But it's creating...higher wages and making it tough for smaller businesses in this area to get employees to work for them."

Parks said he's not sure the changes to Employment Insurance will help. Reforms announced by the federal government on Thursday are supposed to reduce Canada's reliance on foreign workers by making frequent claimants pursue jobs that might pay less.

"It's just a numbers thing here in Red Lake," Parks said. "There's just not enough people to go around to employ at all the small businesses in town."

Meanwhile, some people are concerned about what the changes will mean for people who are out of work.

The head of Thunder Bay's Chamber of Commerce, Harold Wilson, said more resources are needed to help people find jobs.

"You've got to work with them more," he said. "One has to make sure that the supports are there for those individuals to really take a look at how to either better market themselves or how to better ally themselves to those jobs that are there."

The government announced enhanced job alert emails will be sent to EI recipients daily. Currently, postings are sent every two weeks.

Wilson said he's not sure if that goes far enough.