Community members had a chance to hear about supports offered to help ease the impact of Canfor’s Vavenby mill closure at a town hall meeting early this week and were encouraged to find out what help they may be eligible for.
Myles Bruns, regional economic manager for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, is part of a community transition team, and insisted residents voice concerns so the ministry can try and figure out the best way to carry the community through the tough situation following the layoffs of more than 170 local employees.
“Whether you’re a worker, contractor, small business owner or resident of the community, it’s important for us to hear from you because that helps us to get the community through the transition,” said Bruns, adding community transition is a three-pillared process involving workers and residents, community, and economic development.
“The workers side is helping people to find new jobs, to get training and whatever else they need to get back to work if they’ve been impacted by an event like this; on the community side it could be things like daycare, the curling rink, the park, or how people are doing from a mental health perspective, so think about the broader community, all the stuff you do that you take pride in your community and the pieces in your community that support you.”
Bruns said the economic development piece is trying to help the community bounce back from the mill closure in general with things like economically diversifying developing sectors, attracting businesses to the community, and whatever else it takes to turn things around and work to reduce the economic impact that happens after an event like a mass layoff.
He stressed that workers and contractors who are now out of work should register with WorkBC as soon as possible, otherwise, they won’t know what supports they’re eligible for and might not be able to get the help available to them.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there around what you can get for employment insurance or training and it’s all done on an individual basis, so just because someone is eligible for one thing, doesn’t mean the next person is eligible because everyone’s situation is different—so please go in and register,” said Bruns.
“On the community side, I ask you to think about what you see in your community. If you see things that are changing that you don’t like, let us know, otherwise, we can’t help fix that. And the third thing is if you have an idea about how to diversify the economy and do business, whether it’s at an individual level if you want to start your own business, or you have an idea of a company that can come here, again, talk to us.”
Kathy Fournier, program manager with WorkBC, echoed the fact there’s misinformation about the supports for people needing new employment.
She listed some of the services offered to those in need and also encouraged those interested to visit a WorkBC office, with locations in both Clearwater and Barriere.
“Some of the services we provide are your job search, resume building, interviewing—helping you with those because that may be very nerve-wracking after being out of that loop for 10 years or more,” she said.
“Also, job coaching, career planning, training and finding those skills you have that can be used in the job market currently, and you’d be surprised at how many skills you have, because many of us may have been in the same job for a while, using great skills, we try to pull all those (skills) out and find the right job in the market for you.”
Fournier noted one doesn’t have to be on an active employment insurance claim to access services offered by WorkBC.
“You can come in and we will have a one-on-one conversation with you to help determine your path and reach your employment goal,” she said.
“Everybody has different circumstances so one thing I do request is come and find that information out for yourself that matches what you’re looking for so you’re not relying on misinformation and possibly missing a great opportunity for yourself or your family.”