EACOM Timber Corp. is addressing the employment issue in the north through international recruitment.
The forestry company has been working with IVEY Group, a Sudbury-based international recruitment and consulting firm, to recruit and retain workers in northern communities.
The partnership has been ongoing for several years, according to Jean Brodeur, EACOM’s director of communications and government relations.
“Employment has been an issue for us in Northern Ontario or northern Quebec,” he said. “It’s isolated communities. If you look at Timmins or other sites we have, it’s very difficult to find employees available.”
According to Statistics Canada's recent job vacancy data, the labour shortage has affected multiple sectors of the economy.
EACOM hired IVEY to recruit international employees for the Gogama sawmill, said Anthony Lawley, the CEO and president of IVEY Group. The two companies do business on other sites as well, he said.
About 10 international workers from Ukraine, Mexico and Honduras have already arrived in Gogama. More employees are expected, including a group of six arriving in the winter, according to Brodeur.
EACOM also recently announced a $10-million investment to build a new 44-unit housing facility in Gogama over five years.
The housing complex will house new international employees and their families as well as corporate and regional employees who travel to the area on business.
“If you don’t have accommodation for them, then you have to essentially be on breaks in terms of recruitment because you don’t have a place to have them. That was becoming an outstanding issue for us, so we needed to find a solution,” Brodeur said about the housing project.
Hiring internationally has become essential due to the labour shortage and the skills gap, Lawley said.
“The other thing with Gogama is Côté Gold Project is hiring a ridiculous amount of people … and because of the industry, they’re able to pay a higher wage. So, people are quitting, going to work for the mining project,” he said noting people are also reluctant to move to Gogama because of its location. “People would rather live in Timmins or Sudbury than Gogama.”
Lawley said IVEY Group has partnership agreements with many various organizations outside of Canada. The firm recruits employees in Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Ukraine for its clients.
“It is extremely difficult today to find workers,” Lawley said. “It’s not stealing jobs from Canadians, it’s not importers trying to hire cheap labour … These people coming here for an opportunity to change their life for something better.”