“One person’s gas is another person’s poison.”— Thomas Jefferson
As the United States opens its doors to more of the world’s jobs, some Canadians appear intent on stealing jobs. However, one resource they have no right to steal: the skyrocketing price of uranium.
Uranium, used to make nuclear power plants run, has soared in price. Unfortunately, many Canadians are not getting ready for the inevitable: the sudden shortage.
Ontario has been hemorrhaging mineral resources and jobs at a rapid pace, thanks to its lax regulation of the mining industry. The Town of Fort McMurray in Alberta, where the world’s first commercial nuclear plant was built, now needs help to keep up with demand for workers. As citizens of Ontario, we could not use nuclear power plants in our province to finance health care, education and social programs. Nor would we allow this oil-rich province to wreck its energy future and hand us over to Mexico to subsidize.
The town of Fort McMurray in Alberta, which needs help to keep up with demand for workers, could not use nuclear power plants in our province to finance health care, education and social programs. Nor would we allow this oil-rich province to wreck its energy future and hand us over to Mexico to subsidize.
Mining has been an engine of Ontario’s economy, pulling thousands of people into work. In the last five years, the number of mining jobs has dropped from more than 16,000 to fewer than 6,000. Ontario is still making its yearly budget using these resources, however, so far it is being a prudent steward of the $30 billion in reserves that went into the new Peace-haven nuclear reactor.
Instead of investing in nuclear reactors, mining companies are cutting back operations. The stockpiles of uranium in the “back-in” stockpiles, which are held back in cases of accidents or supply shortfalls, have been steadily growing, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Toronto. Production plans for new mines are being delayed and exploration projects being shelved. As one mining executive told the Toronto Star newspaper, “Trying to be bullish right now is a losing proposition.”
But Ontario should not lose the mining boom too. Canada is right to be leading the clean-energy revolution — by developing its uranium reserves, energy companies like Cameco and Lake Shore Gold will create good jobs.
Grassy Narrows and Anishinabek Tribal Council, the Inuit corporations who call these properties home, should stop their lawsuits against mining companies that have invested billions of dollars in the region.
Canada may need to develop more nuclear power plants in the future, but it should not let some people stop progress by suing those responsible for creating the jobs.
If Ontario wants to find a life raft that will keep it out of the metaphorical oil soup it’s suffering through right now, it should stop filing lawsuits. Ontario could redirect its resources to creating mining jobs. With the skill sets that Canadian workers have, the jobs can be waiting for the workers when the uranium production rises.
As former Assembly of First Nations deputy grand chief and grand chief of the First Nations’ Assembly of Ontario, a historic native-owned and operated business focused on renewable energy, I urge the Ontario government to focus on raising the physical and social capacity of aboriginal communities to ensure our future. The definition of First Nations includes these communities. While Aboriginal Peoples of Ontario are not one and the same as the communities in the Fort McMurray region, their countrymen and women share many of the same interests.
David Hasler is a lawyer and former deputy grand chief of the Ontario Assembly of First Nations.
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