WorkBC’s office on McLean Street in downtown Quesnel. Contributed photo

Quesnel’s WorkBC branch hosts information sessions for laid off Tolko workers

Service Canada will also be in attendance at some sessions to inform employees about options

Quesnel’s WorkBC agency is hosting four sessions geared towards Tolko employees who have been affected by the mill’s closure.

The sessions will be led by a WorkBC employee, and cover information on the organization’s employment programs, as well as other services offered.

WorkBC skills training and wage subsidy co-ordinator Kathy Wallace says the sessions will let Tolko employees know about workshops available to get resumes and cover letters done; help with job searches; and offer information on skills training programs and self-employment.

WorkBC also offers wage subsidy programs, where it can subsidize up to half a person’s wage when they are going into a job where they don’t necessarily have the skills required at the outset.

The sessions will run Oct. 22-25, with meetings on Oct. 22, 23 and 25 starting at 10 a.m. and the session on Oct. 24 beginning at 6 p.m. Wallace says they will take around two hours, but they can go longer or shorter depending on the number of questions attendees have. The sessions can host between 10 and 15 people, and Wallace says they will hold more if there is demand.

The WorkBC sessions are intended to give attendees an overview of the services on offer, but Wallace says those searching for work can be consulted on an individual basis.

“We can also do one-on-one case management,” says Wallace, emphasizing that locals don’t have to wait for a session: “People are also welcome to call or come into the office anytime. Anyone here will be happy to answer any questions they have.”

A representative from Service Canada will be in attendance at the Oct. 22 and Oct. 25 meetings, to address things like how to apply for employment insurance benefits and other programs they oversee.

WorkBC will also have information available on programs offered by Community Futures North Cariboo and the College of New Caledonia.

Wallace says those interested in attending the sessions next week should call WorkBC to book their place at 250-992-7691. Spouses or support people are welcome to accompany attendees.

“We are working closely with the province on addressing the needs of the Tolko workers,” says Wallace.

READ MORE: Tolko to curtail operations in Quesnel

Donna Pincott, Tolko’s Manager of Communication, told the Observer last week that the decision to halt operations was due to poor market conditions and high log costs.

“Over 100 employees are affected,” she wrote in an email. “As you can imagine, we deeply regret the impact this will have on our employees and their families.” The number does not take into consideration indirect employees like logging contractors.

Pincott said last week the mill will monitor the situation to determine when operations may be resumed.

United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 president Brian O’Rourke told the Observer that as far as he understands, Tolko workers in Quesnel are currently laid off, but if the mill goes back into production, employees will go straight back to work.

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