WINNIPEG – Farmers in Manitoba are just as confused as the rest of us about the decision to layoff workers at the Port of Churchill.
Over 40 workers were given their two weeks notice because there will be no grain shipment this year, only freight service, which today has been cut down to one run per week instead of two.
So far, the port’s owner – OmniTrax Canada – has not commented on the layoffs.
Keystone Agricultural Producers president Dan Mazier tells 680 CJOB he’s in the dark like everyone else and all he can do is speculate.
“Could be a game of chicken,” says Mazier. “Could be OmniTrax had enough – I don’t know, that’s just observation.”
Mazier adds that this year could be a record crop for grain, which would increase shipments substantially, making the layoffs all the more mysterious.
Flin Flon MLA Not Happy With Government Silence
New Democrat MLA for Flin Flon Tom Lindsey thinks the lack of answers from all parties reflects poorly on the provincial government.
Premier Brian Pallister has not commented yet on the layoffs, and that doesn’t sit well with Lindsey.
“I think that’s terrible, that it shows a complete lack of leadership. It shows a really uncaring attitude towards the north. We’ve seen that already in a lot of things this government has done.”
Asked what exactly the government should do about this, Lindsey didn’t have any concrete ideas.
“Can they force OmniTrax to pick up the phone? No, of course not. You can’t force anybody to pick up the phone. But they should be able to put pressure on OmniTrax to get them to the table and start trying to figure out what’s going on. There’s any numbers of ways I’m sure that governments have of putting pressure on private enterprise.”
The provincial and federal governments have issued statements on the subject, but are not doing interviews.
Manitoba’s Indigenous Minister Eileen Clarke met with First Nations leaders on Wednesday. She says they would like to see the port re-nationalized or have a local ownership model put in place.
Clarke added that the province will ensure that northern communities continue to receive fresh food supplies.