FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Though the number of workers at the Site C dam project broke 2,000 for the first in January, only 2,123 of the 2,124 workers were from Canada.
BC Hydro confirmed that one of the mage project’s workers was hired through the Temporary Foreign Worker program subject to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process. BC Hydro spokesperson Dave Conway said that the worker is the first to be hired under the TFW program that is working on the project. Conway explained that Peace River Hydro Partners began the Labour Market Impact Assessment after the company was unable to recruit from within Canada for the position.
Conway says that the worker in question is overseeing the construction of a roller-compacted concrete buttress, which uses a different technique that normal concrete. According to Conway, the worker has previously overseen the construction of a 90 metre RCC dam in Australia, and has also studied the construction techniques with a number of dams overseas. “This individual has a very specific skillset, and very extensive experience on this, and the role is critical,” said Conway. “It’s a critical job.”
Josh Towsley with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 says that many of his union’s members have worked with roller-compacted concrete before, and that he refutes BC Hydro’s claim that the skillset needed is all that specialised. Towsley added that he feels that the Temporary Foreign Worker program should require employers, if they are not able to directly hire to fill a vacancy, should have to seek out subcontractors before applying to hire foreigners.