Candidate Q&A – Skilled Workers

Below are their answers to the fourth question in full (original spelling and all).

Q. What are your plans to attract and keep skilled workers in the area?

Mayoral Candidates

Lori Ackerman

A. Having worked with the Petroleum Human Resources Council’s “Increasing the Talent” project, I know that there are programs that we can partner in.  Together with industry, industry associations, business development organizations, economic development organizations, employment centers, and our academic institutes: SD#60, NLC and UNBC the City can partner to create a workforce strategy.  This is an issue that must be a shared responsibility.

Don Irwin

A. The best way to recruit and retain skilled and other workers is to have a strong diversified economy. As fulltime Mayor I will work with the Chamber of Commerce, businesses and industries to continue to build and stabilize a diverse economy.

I will be pro-active by working with businesses to come up with a strategy to attract and retain workers. I will also assist business by attending job and trade fairs, etc.

The North Peace Economic Commission has recently developed a ‘Recruit and Retain Workers Program’ that is assisting businesses with this problem.  

A community with excellent sports, recreational, arts and cultural opportunities and facilities as well as affordable and seniors housing is essential to keeping businesses, workers and their families in FSJ.
An attractive airport and especially reasonably priced flights are needed as well, and our Airport Development Committee is moving ahead in this regard.

Mike Murray

A. We have to avoid boom and bust cycles. People need to know there will be long term jobs in the area before they will make long term investments like housing and new commercial developments. That's why I think using natural gas plants to produce electricity is a far better deal for Ft St John than a short-term building boom that would result from a Site C.? Five year booms hooked to twenty five years?payment plans?do not lead to stable development.

Councillor Candidates

Dan Pope

A. Unlike many communities, we have much to offer in this area including an opportunity to earn a good living, we have a local college and number of training facilities that offers courses in the trades. We have excellent schools and leisure opportunites for families.  I think that the City Council could do more by meeting with industry and service providers to share their information to help in the planning process.

Carol Kube

A. They need affordable housing, medical services such as a family doctor, transportation to get to and from work. Affordable daycare for their children. Affordable retail services available, try buying a pair of running shoes the first day of school.  Crime and drug use reduction. All of these are things that, although not in the City’s direct spending budget are all made easier to attract with cooperation and lobbying from City officials.

Dan Davies

A. We have a worker shortage and will need to be looking outside our area as well as retaining who is here.  By creating a community where one feels like they are home will be a step in attracting and retaining them. Arts and recreation, fair and equitable taxes, a place for families and a feeling of safety, play a significant role in what makes us a great community.  We need to get the message of our community out:  "A Great Place to Live!"

Brandon Joice

A. Right now, a factor that is pushing labourers out of the town is the exceedingly high cost of living. At a bare minimum of $20/h, it is difficult for a labourer to start a life here. At $20/h he has no ability to place his money into savings and the notion of him bringing any family with him is out the window. With this in mind, we also need to think about how the wages in the oilfield industry have not risen in correlation to the grown of the region, and now many workers consider leaving and working for the same amount, while decreasing the cost of life.

This is an issue that the entire council, and key leaders in the community need to work together to rectify. I propose slight decreases in the value of multitudes of products, and needs to decrease the cost of living, while also preventing any other industry from taking a severe hit, to accommodate labourers.

Tamara Wilkinson

A. We are a growing population of mainly young families which means we have a valuable source of residents to train as they reach college age. We need to keep these people here and provide training as inexpensively as possible, including reaching out to the industry that requires them for donation. This would be my first line of attack. Second to that, we need to actively promote within our province, and the country itself, the benefits of not only the jobs here, but the lifestyle, which is truly magnificent.

Third, we need to support our aboriginal communities with more training and integration into the industry around here, which would build a better community for us all.

Beyond these ideas, we need to pressure the federal government immigration services to realize the extreme lack of skilled workers, and open up immigration to this. Our business is in contact with people all over the world via social media, and there are people who want to move here for the jobs, and Canadian way, but are limited by outdated rules and red tape.

Gord Klassen

A. Fort St. John needs to re-establish the recognition and respect that we so deserve.  This begins with each one of us, who live here, recognizing the benefits of living in this area, and taking pride in our community.  We also need to be out spreading the clear and convincing message to our province and beyond, that our community is one that hosts unlimited business opportunities, offers great services and amenities, affords exciting arts, culture, entertainment and recreation options, and has excellent schools that provide an incredibly innovative and creative learning environment for our children.  We must ensure that we plan for and provide adequate health care to our residents and offer the social services that people require to live healthy and well.   And, of course, we must keep taxes fair and equitable, all the while looking for new options for affordable housing, along with increased education, arts, and recreation opportunities.  

Larry Evans

A. To keep what I’m doing in making Fort St. John the place to want to be and work.  We have gems like the Cultural Centre, Pomeroy Sorts Centre, the new hospital, walking trails, and the list goes on.  All these and many more wonderful things we have go a long way to making people want to come to stay and work.  I promote Fort St. John wherever I go and will continue to do this.

Byron Stewart

A. In order to attract, and retain skilled workers (and their families) Council needs to work to meet the needs of our residents; individuals, families, and our seniors, as well as our visitors, through advanced services.  Our new hospital and fire department will provide increased security. The availability and usage of our cultural, sport and recreational facilities need to be maximized.  The “brown lots” in the downtown core need to be transformed into, at minimum, purposeful green space that assist in making our community more attractive.  Our transit system needs to be vastly improved (more taxi’s) with far more inclusive options for our seniors, disabled and low income families.  Our airport, the gateway to our community, most often welcoming prospective skilled employees, needs to have far more affordable options for families flying to or from our community.  Until a person settles into making Fort St. John their home, they will want to remain as connected as possible with the home they are coming from.  At this point in time, our airport costs are a hindrance in attracting and retaining skilled workers and their families.

Bruce Christensen

A. We must create the position of an Economic Development person. This person would work with groups like the Chamber of Commerce, industry, and the arts and cultural groups, and in particular with the individuals themselves to see what they really need or want to make their life better.

Trevor Bolin

A. The council needs to work together with industry to ensure they know not only that FSJ is the place to work, but the place to live.  We offer rec facilities that are only offered in three other cities in north America.  With the new hospital, new fire hall, new Kid’s arena and of course the Pomeroy Sports Center Fort St John is the place to play.

Sarah Palmer

A. Fort St. John is very fortunate to have a surplus of employment opportunities. In many communities across the country unemployment is an issue of grate concern. The solution to this issue of how to attract skilled workers to the area is rooted in that fact. I see a two part strategy to alleviating the demand that includes and immediate fix and a long-term solution. First of all, an immediate fix is as simple as marketing these employment opportunities to workers across the country, as we have in the past. The greater the need for workers, the more aggressive our “marketing strategy” should be. Job fairs in eastern and central Canada will let the country know that there is a good living to be made in Fort St. John and the opportunities are abundant. This will get the workers to come. Secondly, a long term solution should focus on continuing to make Fort St. John a vibrant, attractive, livable city with a strong sense of community. This will get the workers to stay.

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