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Letter: Grant-in-lieu, the scourge of mining communities

Radical changes to how mining companies are taxed are needed to benefit mining communities.
An aerial view of Thompson.

To the Editor:

Thanks to the pressure exerted by both governments and their laissez-faire attitude, unionized labour has paid a very heavy toll. At the same time the grant-in-lieu is the death knell of mining towns in Canada without exception.

Rather than extoll the benefits of union labour, I will give two glowing examples of why corporations prefer non-union mine employees. The contractors pay lobbyists to encourage our provincial government to introduce changes in the Mines Act in Manitoba to introduce a 12-hour day in our mines.

Now the money spent on labour is cut to the bone, since benefit packages are costly. 

Recently, our mine employees gave up retirement benefits to keep their jobs. So, consequently, the shift of health care for industrial disease was shifted to the public health care system in Manitoba. No more post-retirement coverage for industrial diseases, combined with reduction of the grant-in-lieu, means the city property taxes have increased and the corporation is laughing all the way to the bank. Literally.

What is required is a revamp of the Mines Act to give a small portion of company profits to Manitoba mining communities. The tax-exempt status of mine operations killed Leaf Rapids and Lynn Lake in one sweep. The government handed out almost $100 million to Sherrit Gordon Mines, which was invested in a laterite mine in Cuba before selling Ruttan Mine and shutting the Lynn Lake operation down in 1989.

Ottawa assisted the hourly employees to relocate and no severance was paid to union employees until it reopened, when the union charter expired three years later. A Conservative government insisted that Black Hook Resources pay severance to displaced employees.

So once more, the taxpayers in our city are carrying a profitable mining operation which bleeds the economy, while reaping enormous profits.

Time to demand a radical change in the manner in which we tax mining companies to benefit our mining communities.

Angus Campbell Sr.


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