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Evidence of meeting #18 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was industry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Arlene Strom  Vice-President, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Suncor Energy Inc.
Cathy Glover  Director, Stakeholder Relations and Community Investment, Suncor Energy Inc.
Anja Jeffrey  Director, Centre for the North, Conference Board of Canada
Heidi Martin  Research Associate, Leadership and Human Resources Research, Conference Board of Canada
Ryan Montpellier  Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resource Council
Scott Jobin-Bevans  President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)
Glenn Nolan  Vice-President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

4:25 p.m.

Director, Centre for the North, Conference Board of Canada

Anja Jeffrey

Thank you very much.

I think your comment is a testament to the fact that even though there is an overarching and very broad political support for Canada's north, when it comes down to the actual implementation of initiatives, there's a lack of knowledge on the ground of what's going on.

That has more to do with the constitutional makeup of Canada, where the federal government, of course, plays a very important role, and in this particular case, through HRSDC, CanNor, and AANDC. But there's so much going on in the territories and in the provinces that simply does not always reach decision-makers in Ottawa, and it's nobody's fault in particular. It's simply because people in the north—politicians as well as policy makers—are extremely stretched, and the capacities, both human resources and financial, are stretched too.

Building the foundation for informed decision-making is really what is needed here. It's all about latching on to not only what the private sector does—Suncor is just one of a myriad of examples out there of how the private sector supports labour force and skills capacity in development in the north. But the public sector needs to step in and create a binder of best practices, so to speak. If that were to happen and it was then attached to Government of Canada priorities, I think you would begin to see where the gaps are in that conversation.

It's not because we are right or they are wrong; I think it is a matter of communication, and it's also a matter of intelligence gathering. The types of reports the Conference Board of Canada's Centre for the North puts out add an element to that conversation, but it's not exhaustive. That would be my recommendation, moving forward.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Are you going to make a comment?

Do I have some time?

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Yes, you have about 30 seconds—now you have 22.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Okay, let's talk about this. How do we encourage the public sector, or private corporations, or investors? I'm looking for some non-monetary suggestions here. How do we encourage them to participate? We can all agree that their participation is very important.

4:25 p.m.

Director, Centre for the North, Conference Board of Canada

Anja Jeffrey

I have no specific answer to that.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Suncor has a concluding remark? If not, we are going to suspend for a few moments.

I'd like to thank everyone for presenting.

I see that Ms. Glover wants to make a comment.

4:25 p.m.

Director, Stakeholder Relations and Community Investment, Suncor Energy Inc.

Cathy Glover

No, just to thank you.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

All right.

We'll suspend for five minutes.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

We'll call the meeting to order and take our places.

As we go forward, I'll say that we're going to adjourn perhaps 10 minutes earlier, as we have some committee business we'd like to deal with, so we'll keep that in mind. We may not get through the full round of questioning, but we do want to be sure that we hear the presenters.

Usually presentations are for five to seven minutes. Then we would have five-minute rounds of questions.

You can give it your best during your presentation and then answer the questions as you're able.

Mr. Montpellier, go ahead.

4:35 p.m.

Ryan Montpellier Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resource Council

Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for the opportunity to appear as a witness and address the standing committee this afternoon. I'm certainly pleased to be here.

My name is Ryan Montpellier. I am the executive director of the Mining Industry Human Resources Council, also known as MiHR. MiHR is a public-private partnership between the federal government, through the HRSDC sector council program, and the Canadian mining sector.

As I'm sure a number of you are aware, earlier this year Minister Diane Finley announced changes to the sector council program and changes to the funding for our organization. Although this will have a fairly significant impact on the Mining Industry HR Council going forward, we are exploring all options to mitigate against this loss of funding. We do plan on continuing to identify and address the HR challenges facing the mining industry.

But on that note, that's not why I'm here today. I'm here today to provide a bit more information that I think will be relevant to you in regard to the labour market situation facing the Canadian mining industry and specifically to talk about the importance of aboriginal people in mining. I'd also like to highlight one specific program of the council, which is called Mining Essentials, a very innovative way in which the mining industry and aboriginal people are working together to gain the critical skills needed by the sector.

On that note, today the Canadian mining industry is really facing the perfect storm. According to the Mining Association of Canada, the industry has almost $140 billion in new mining projects, either for expansion or for new projects in the permitting stages. This rapid expansion of the sector will put significant pressure on an already strained labour market.

The mining sector is also not immune to the aging of the Canadian workforce. In fact, approximately 40% of the current mining sector workforce today is over 50 years old, making it one of the oldest sectors in Canada, and about a third of the industry will be eligible to retire in the next four years.

Further compounding this challenge are the industry's challenges in attracting youth. Youth continue to hold negative perceptions associated with the mining industry; the stereotypes of what the industry may have been 50 years ago still are felt today in our schools.

All of this translates into a very daunting challenge for the mining sector: the need to recruit approximately 115,000 new people over the next 10 years. That is based on a very moderate growth scenario. If that $140 billion in the permitting stages actually comes to fruition, the number of people needed by the mining industry will quickly top 150,000.

How do we address this challenge?

The industry really needs to take a two-pronged approach. The first strategy is to make better use of all potential sources of supply. This means continued efforts to attract, recruit, and retain youth, women, new Canadians, aboriginal people, and older workers. Also, mining companies will need to continue to maintain and expand their investments in training and develop people in proximity to their mine operations. For the most part, as all of you know, these are in rural and remote communities.

The trend over the past 10 or 15 years has been the creation of a fly in and fly out workforce, or a commuter workforce. Although there are benefits to that and it can be a very effective solution, it is a very costly model. Turnover is much higher in these situations. It also causes significant social challenges with respect to family life.

There's simply a better solution, and that is to attract people and develop people locally and have them share equally in the economic benefit of the mine operations.

The second way of approaching this challenge is going to be through productivity increases. Increasingly, industry will need to rely upon improved investments yielding productivity gains. Investments into new equipment and technology will lead to less people requirements but will mean that the individuals the mining sector needs will need a much higher skill set. This is something the industry is challenged with today.

As I mentioned earlier when listing the number of potential sources of supply, I highlighted aboriginal people. This is one of the key pillars and strategies of the mining industry to address its skills challenge.

As you all know, several mining companies operate their mines in close proximity to aboriginal communities. In fact, the mining sector is the largest private sector employer of aboriginal people. Approximately 7.5% of the current national mining workforce self-identify as aboriginal people, and that's 2006 census data. From our analysis, that number is closer to 10% today. This represents somewhere between 17,000 to 20,000 aboriginal people currently employed. My understanding is that you heard earlier in the week from Cameco. Cameco is one excellent example of a mining company leading the charge in this area. They're not the only one, but they're certainly doing some excellent work at attracting and retaining aboriginal talent.

Today, there are over 175 agreements between aboriginal communities and mining, mineral, and exploration companies. Many of these agreements have very specific targets with respect to employment. However, one of the key challenges that mining companies are facing in fulfilling those employment targets is finding the right people with the right skills at the right time. There are certainly challenges with respect to essential skills and work readiness.

In that regard, any investment that can be made to increase the level of essential skills in rural and remote communities, and in aboriginal communities particularly, would be a wise and strategic investment. To that end, the ASEP program in particular has yielded some very strong results for the mining sector in the past decade, and we would certainly encourage the next version of the ASEP program to continue to have the education to employment link that was so prevalent in the ASEP program.

Finally, I would simply like to highlight one specific example of an innovative program that I think would be relevant to the work of this committee. The program is called Mining Essentials. It is a pre-employment, work-readiness training program targeting aboriginal youth. Mining Essentials is a partnership between the MiHR Council and the Assembly of First Nations, and was developed in 2010 and the early part of 2011 under the guidance of a broad steering committee, including not only first nations, but the Métis and Inuit, and also including representation from the mining sector, aboriginal trainers, and a number of other stakeholders.

The purpose of this program is to increase the involvement and engagement of aboriginal people in the mining and exploration sector by providing work-ready and essential skills training needed to gain meaningful employment. The program teaches skills using industry examples, industry tools, industry documents, and industry situations. However, they teach these things using traditional aboriginal teaching methods and aboriginal culture. It's an innovative and customized approach to pre-employment mine readiness. The training requires delivery partnerships between mining companies, mine trainers, community leaders, and aboriginal elders, and it takes a holistic approach to essential skills and work readiness training.

The first four participating sites produced a 70% success rate, and the majority of the graduates have moved on to gain employment or to pursue further education in the mining sector. Already, in the latter part of this year, and in 2012, there are nine different training institutions across Canada—including community colleges, ASEP recipients, and aboriginal training centres—that are adopting mining essentials and will be training this across the country. We expect several others will be joining shortly as well.

On that note, if you want more information on any of these programs, I invite you to visit the www.aboriginalmining.ca or the council's website at www.mihr.ca.

Thank you once again for the opportunity, and I certainly welcome any questions.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you, and certainly after we've finished the presentations there will be rounds of questioning.

Go ahead.

4:45 p.m.

Scott Jobin-Bevans President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and committee members. My name is Scott Jobin-Bevans. I am president of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, or PDAC. I'm here with Glenn Nolan, the PDAC's first vice-president. We are both volunteers with the association and our careers are actually in the mineral industry. I'm a geologist by training. I've worked all around the world for the last 20 years in geological consulting. I'm a co-founder of a consulting company, Caracle Creek, and have been exposed to many areas of our industry on the mining and exploration side.

Glenn works with Noront Resources, where he's vice-president, aboriginal affairs, and if you know Noront Resources, you'll know it is involved with the Ring of Fire discovery area in Ontario, in the James Bay lowlands. Glenn is also a member of the Missanabie Cree First Nation and a past chief.

The PDAC represents about 8,000 members, individual and corporate. We exist to protect and promote mineral exploration and to ensure a robust mining industry in Canada and for our membership around the world. We encourage the highest standards of technical, environmental, safety, and social practices in Canada and internationally.

I do thank you for the invitation to be here today and to offer our comments on skills development in remote rural communities.

The mining industry, and in particular the mineral exploration sector, is familiar with the matters being studied by this committee. Our member companies operate in remote areas of Canada. Many of the operations are small scale, with perhaps half a dozen full-time employees and a great number of seasonal staff performing a variety of tasks in support of mineral exploration. Across Canada, mineral exploration and mining are the lifeblood for small rural communities.

Throughout the economic turmoil of the past few years, exploration and mining companies have continued to invest in Canadian projects, creating jobs and new businesses that support the industry. Many of these businesses are aboriginal owned and operated, and this leads to new opportunities throughout the country. Our mining industry is a story of success and a fundamental driver of Canada's economy.

In 2010, the mining industry paid some $8.4 billion to governments in taxes and royalties and employed well over 300,000 people. The mining industry is the largest private sector employer of aboriginal Canadians. Since 1996, the mining sector has seen an increase of 43% in its aboriginal workforce, and aboriginal Canadians now make up about 7.5% of the mining labour force.

Mineral exploration is the essential first step in the mining cycle, and Canada does have a number of features that make it a very attractive investment and, as we like to say, number one in the world. We have good geology, good information available through our public geoscience mapping programs, a workforce with access to a number of training initiatives, and a very competitive tax system that includes our flow-through share financing and the mineral exploration tax credit, both of which are unique to Canada and make us the envy of the world. In 2011, it is estimated that exploration expenditures in Canada will exceed $3.1 billion, a significant increase over the $2.6 billion that was invested in 2010.

This committee is interested in identifying ways of encouraging economic and skills development in remote rural communities, including public-private partnerships, best practices, aboriginal education, and encouraging the private sector to invest more in these communities.

The first two recommendations in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce report, “The Business Case for Investing in Canada's Remote Communities”, focus on education and training, calling on the federal government to review the funding formula for education in first nations communities to ensure parity with the provincial financing model and to ensure the skills and training programs are flexible enough to accommodate the economic realities of individual communities. There are many good recommendations in this report, and it is appropriate that education and training be given this attention.

The report also mentions private sector initiatives, and I'd like to talk about one at the PDAC that is fundamental to the work we do. It's called the PDAC Mining Matters. Mining Matters is a charitable organization dedicated to bringing Canada's geology and mineral resources to students, educators, and the general public. The organization provides current information about rocks, minerals, metals, and mining, and offers exceptional educational resources that meet provincial curriculum expectations. Core to the program are the Mining Matters junior, intermediate, and senior educational resources, created by educators and earth science experts.

Mining Matters has reached an estimated 450,000 teachers, students, and members of the general public since its inception in 1994. This is an impressive number. Mining Matters is now in its 11th year of offering aboriginal youth outreach programs, which include educational summer camps for ages 9 to 65, professional development workshops for teachers, and student workshops.

Since 2003, Mining Matters has delivered 41 workshops to 363 teachers in aboriginal communities, who oversee the education of an estimated 5,400 students. Since 2006, Mining Matters has delivered 19 mining rocks earth science camps for aboriginal communities, reaching 485 youths and adults. The earth science camps are designed to engage the youth in resource materials, field trips, authentic data, and activities that explore the technological advances that have made Canada a world leader in mineral exploration and mining.

In 2010, Mining Matters organized a workshop in Baker Lake, which brought together youth from five Nunavut communities. The program was conducted at the site of Agnico-Eagle's Meadowbank Mine. In 2011, Mining Matters delivered 10 earth science camps for aboriginal communities in Ontario and Manitoba, reaching nearly 250 youths and adults with our specialized learning activities. The camp engages many partners from industry, government, academia, and aboriginal communities.

Benefits of the aboriginal outreach program include educational initiatives that improve the quality of education for youth, including literacy, science and math, teamwork, technology, problem solving, critical thinking, earth sciences, mineral exploration, mining, the environment, and future career opportunities.

The program is organized with aboriginal input for all community camps. It supports the local economy, including opportunities for staff employment in camp as well as in services and supply. This leads to enhanced relationships between aboriginal communities, resource sectors, and government.

If members of the committee would like more information on the Mining Matters program, we'd be pleased to provide it.

I must stress that the Mining Matters program has no core government funding. It receives its funding through fundraising, and more than half of it comes through donations from individuals and corporate people. It is quite a successful program.

In conclusion, I'd like to thank the committee again for giving us this opportunity. Glenn Nolan and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you for that presentation.

We'll move to the first round of questioning with Mr. Thibeault.

Go ahead.

December 8th, 2011 / 4:50 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Thank you, Chair, and my thanks to the witnesses for being here today. I guess I could ask anyone who has ever cheered for the Sudbury Wolves to raise your hands—there we go.

Being from Sudbury, I know the importance of mining to my community, my province, and our great country. Over the last three years, as the MP for Sudbury and prior to that in my role as the executive director of the United Way, I got to know the leaders in the mining community in Sudbury. From Vale to Xstrata Nickel, all of them were saying that production in our facilities will start to slow down if we don't find ways to bring workers and miners into our communities. So even though we live in an urban centre, we still see the same issues that you're seeing in northern parts of Canada and Ontario.

We would all agree that what we are seeing in Attawapiskat is truly horrible. We have the largest diamond mine in North America, I believe, in their area. De Beers has been trying to get people employment, but unfortunately the available skills don't match the demand. The Ring of Fire is fantastic news for northern Ontario—for all communities, all the way down from the train tracks to the infrastructure construction and everything that goes with it.

Your organization is looking at getting a jump on providing the training to the first nations communities, who are there already, before the first shovel goes into the ground. I'll open that up to start off with.

4:55 p.m.

President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

Scott Jobin-Bevans

I'll ask Glenn to say some words about that since he's involved with it.

4:55 p.m.

Glenn Nolan Vice-President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

Thank you for that question. From having been intimately involved in the development of the project up to now, from the discovery in 2007, the issue is trying to determine who is ready to be employed, and from there, finding out which members are willing to be employed but don't have the skill set, and then developing programs to identify those two groups.

That's where we started our program. We went into the communities and did skills assessment and job readiness. From there, our company—and I can only speak for our company—started providing training in safety and specific equipment training so they could come and work on our project. Obviously, we're at the early stages of our development. As we go forward, we are looking for other opportunities to train them so they become part of our crew as the development continues. Also, when the mine starts production, we will have a ready workforce that will have a significant amount of training and job experience of just being on site and being part of the workforce.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

That's great.

4:55 p.m.

Vice-President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

Glenn Nolan

We think that's critical. We want to do it early and get as many ready as possible.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

That's excellent.

In the north, and I will talk specifically of Sudbury, there are three post-secondary education facilities. One of these facilities put together mobile skills training centres. I believe they wanted to put forward four. They were able to put forward two. Two of those were supported by the private sector—mining companies, of course—so if you're looking at diamond drilling or whatever it is, this training can happen.

The other two were requested through government funding. We're hearing more and more that it's being denied and that we don't have the money to pay for these types of things. If we're looking at the comments you made earlier, in terms of the royalties we're paying to all levels of government, should there not be some type of investment from all levels of government to ensure there are mobile centres and training is happening throughout the north, so those communities get the necessary skills and they can be employed as soon as the mines open?

4:55 p.m.

Vice-President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

Glenn Nolan

One of the things we are seeing in Ontario is that we have a consortium of colleges and training centres working together. Confederation College, Sault College, Northern College, and Cambrian College have come together to provide mining readiness training, whether it's diamond drilling or common core—surface or underground. I think it's critical that we continue to work together.

We're still working in silos. Our company is working independently from other organizations. We don't have the staff to reach out and work with others. We're attempting to do something like that, working with other mining organizations like Goldcorp, De Beers, and Detour Gold so we can develop a common training program that we can all tap into and have one set of management to help defray some of the costs. I think that's critical, but right now we don't have the resources to come together and develop it to the extent we'd like to.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you. Your time is up.

I will move to Mr. Daniel. Go ahead.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you very much for coming to be here with us this afternoon.

You obviously have a very tall order to fulfill all these requirements for close to 150,000 jobs over the next little while. What portion of those jobs is going to be filled by aboriginals?

5 p.m.

Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resource Council

Ryan Montpellier

I can't give you a specific percentage. I think we're all aware of the aboriginal baby boom that has occurred in this country. Given the proximity of mine sites to aboriginal communities, it will certainly be an increasingly important source of skilled labour. I don't have a specific number to give you, but I can say aboriginal participation in the mining industry has increased 40% from one census to the next. I would expect that number to continue to increase as new mines continue to develop and open in proximity to aboriginal communities.

5 p.m.

Vice-President, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

Glenn Nolan

I would also say that it's not just the direct employment that's going to affect the aboriginal communities. It's the business that's going to be developed around that, that's going to be owned and operated by communities. They need to have that opportunity to train their own members on management of those companies, whether through a partnership or some sort of training program where they can be a sole-source operator. It's critical at this time that we look at the whole picture instead of just trying to find a welder or a scoop-tram operator. We need to find the opportunities for entrepreneurs to take that risk and go forward to owning businesses that provide a service or supply to the industry.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

You can't take a rough guess at whether it's 10% or 50%?