Bombardier Labor Adjustment Center in Thunder Bay closed

The committee that runs the center says it has asked the governorate to continue funding, which it has denied.

The center opened two and a half years ago, after Bombardier laid off about 550 workers, to help those workers transition to new jobs or positions.

It was funded with $613,000 from the county government and was originally scheduled to open for only one year. Twice she received extensions that allowed her to work for two and a half years in total, but continued to fund herself through the initial endowment.

France’s Alstom, the new owner of the plant, is expected to temporarily lay off nearly 300 people this month as workers complete a contract with the United States. Work does not begin for the next two decades until the end of the summer.

Dominic Pasqualino, president of the local union representing Alstom workers, says he would like the center to remain open to help the next round of laid-off workers.

Some of them won’t be back for an entire year. If they find something, even if it is temporary, it makes them less likely to pack up and walk away. »

Quote from Dominic Pasqualino, President of Unifor Local 1075

Dominic Pasqualino is president of Unifor Local 1075, which represents workers at the Bombardier Thunder Bay plant.

Photo: CBC/Nicole Ireland

It offers peer-to-peer support, occupational mental health services, training and job search assistance, according to Ian Angus, chair of the employment adjustment committee that runs the center.

About 400 of Bombardier’s 550 laid-off workers are registered for the service, which is hosted at Unifor’s headquarters in Thunder Bay.

Many workers struggled after losing their jobs

Even with the help of the Labor Adjustment Center, the majority of former Bombardier employees who registered there are still in a worse position than they were before their jobs were interrupted.

Angus says nearly 30% are currently unemployed.

An advertisement at the Bombardier factory in Thunder Bay.

Bombardier has announced layoffs for its staff at its Thunder Bay plant.

Photo: Sandra Buckler / Bombardier

A survey conducted in August of last year showed that 61% earned less than Bombardier and only 11% earned more.

Mr. Angus explains these difficulties by noting that the layoffs occurred at the end of 2019, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Canadian economy.

Mr. Angus said the area’s unemployment rate was also above average, meaning there were fewer job vacancies, and not all families could have a family member travel out of town to work in a remote mine.

When asked if the high unemployment rates mean that the center has failed in its mission, he replied: It’s always a challenge, and for sure, we don’t have control over what jobs are available. We do not have the ability to create jobs. What we can do is help workers prepare to apply and increase their skills.

Monthly customer experience measurements revealed that between 90 and 97 percent of terminated workers were satisfied with the service the center provided.

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