Instead of stepping up to the plate and working with key sectors and post-secondary institutions to meet the labour shortage in BC, Advanced Education Minister John Yap continues to be pre-occupied with trying to cover up his government’s embarrassing record on skills training by twisting the truth about the NDP.
It has been widely reported that HD Mining brought in about 200 workers for their Murray River underground coal mine in northeastern BC. HD Mining Vice President Jody Shimkus has been quoted as saying that it is their intent to supply their own workers for the operations in BC for up to 10 years.

The Opposition has been critical of the Liberal government for their mismanagement of this issue on several points. Like many British Columbians, we are concerned that in 2008, the Liberal government spent $1.3 Million on a mining labour force study that recommends a new trades position for training “underground mine worker” and yet they failed to act on that recommendation. On top of that, the Liberal government actually singled out skills training for a budget cut in the 2012 budget. Instead of addressing these concerns, Advanced Education Minister John Yap continues to focus on making misleading allegations as a means to disguise their dismal record.

Minister Yap’s false allegation that the NDP is politicizing a straightforward hiring process shows just how out of touch the government is with reality. This process has been so badly mismanaged that on Nov. 20, Federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley stated: “We are not satisfied with what we have learned about the process that led to permission for hundreds of foreign workers to gain jobs at the Dehau Mines subsidiary in British Columbia. In particular, we are not satisfied that sufficient efforts were made to recruit or train Canadians interested in these jobs.” The matter is now under review by the federal government.

For years, sector experts such as the Association for Mineral Exploration of BC have pointed to areas of critical skills shortages in the mining sector. They say that, without adequate training, there will be thousands of unfilled jobs in mining and mineral exploration.

The debate surrounding the Murray River mining project should focused on policy issues: How can we ensure that Canadians, new and established alike, have access to the skills training needed to obtain good jobs in growing sectors? Why was the desire for Canadians to access these job opportunities never addressed by the province in their negotiations with mining resource companies? Why didn’t the Liberal government take action five years ago to ensure Canadians are provided the necessary skills training to access these job opportunities? These are questions that Minister John Yap, and the Premier have yet to answer.

Instead of making things up and hiding from their own dismal record, the Liberal government should stop their negative attacks and focus government resources on making a real difference for families.