More staff needed in ministry to support industry growth.
Vancouver (02 Feb. 2015) — President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) Stephanie Smith met with Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and the Minister responsible for Core Review.
BCGEU/NUPGE raises concerns regarding recruitment and retention in the mining industry
The January 27 meeting came on the heels of the ministry's announcement that the government would transfer $5 million of existing contingency funds into base funding and add an additional $1 million of new base funds for the ministry. The government also announced up to $3 million in estimated new annual revenue from mining fees secured through an enhanced permit process.
"I’m encouraged by Minister Bennett's announcement of increased funding for inspections and permit reviews," said Smith. "This will give some stability to our members who have been overstretched for many years. It’s a step in the right direction, but it should be the first step in ministry renewal, not the last."
“More needs to be done to ensure the ministry attracts and keeps qualified staff — especially in inspections, compliance and enforcement, and industry safety. With ten new mines projected to come on stream, the government must ensure there are sufficient resources to oversee their operation."
Minister Bennett also confirmed that the Core Review process is largely completed and has achieved its goal of finding $50 million in savings across government. The minister committed to forwarding final information from ministries to the union as it becomes available.
Government won't return devolved public services back to public hands
The minister also confirmed there are no active plans to convert the Liquor Distribution Branch into a crown corporation, or to return devolved services back to government.
"We are disappointed to learn that the minister is not recommending that any public services be brought back into government, despite his commitment to look at ways to improve efficiency and value for the taxpayer," said Smith.
The minister acknowledged that the independent investigation report into the Mount Polley mine breach will be released later this week.
"The Mount Polley mine disaster has had a lasting negative impact on the economy and ecosystem of the region, said Smith. “This government needs to commit to a robust regime of inspections, compliance and enforcement to protect our environment and communities."
The government's throne speech is scheduled for February 10, and the provincial budget will be tabled in the legislature on February 17.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE