The Giant Mine Remediation Project is more than a major construction undertaking. Its main goal is to protect the environment and human health and safety. It is also important that local Northern and Indigenous peoples and businesses benefit from it. To achieve this, the project team has a strategy that guides how it will deliver social and economic benefits.
Having a socio-economic strategy for the project is important
The project has the potential to provide socio-economic benefits within the Northwest Territories (NWT), a region which has current economic and labour resource challenges. These include:
a weaker economic outlook than the other territories
mine slowdowns and closures
a shrinking skilled labour force
a need for Indigenous youth job opportunities
The project team is working to support the NWT through employment and capacity-building in the territory. The socio-economic strategy guides how the project identifies and delivers socio-economic benefits by:
structuring project contracts to reflect local capacity and needs
identifying and reducing negative impacts
The project team will continue to review and adjust the strategy to ensure it is working.
The strategy will help northerners and Indigenous peoples benefit from the project
The strategy's overall aim is to benefit northern and Indigenous peoples as much as possible within the federal policies and rules the project has to comply with. To do this, the strategy outlines 3 different types of activities it needs to do:
provide access to employment and procurement opportunities
support capacity-building and skills-development
anticipate, monitor and reduce negative impacts
Most of the project benefits will come when remediation work starts. In this phase, there will be more opportunities for capacity-building, training, jobs, and business growth. Both direct and indirect benefits may result from the project. Direct benefits include:
training and skills-development from the project and its contractors
contracts to provide work or supplies to the project
The project could also create indirect benefits. These are benefits that are not necessarily from people working on the project or buying things for it. Instead, the people doing the work earn money and generate taxes. They also spend locally while working on the project.
Access to employment and procurement opportunities
An important part of the strategy is making sure a wide range of local businesses have opportunities to bid on work. Procurement is an important tool for Indigenous and Northern businesses to gain experience, develop capacity, and form partnerships to compete for opportunities. The project is working with the main construction manager, Parsons Inc., to package the work in ways that reflect local capacity and resources. This will help ensure Northern and Indigenous businesses can participate in procurement processes. The project is also including specific requirements, tools, and approaches for the main construction manager to use as part of the procurement process.
Support for capacity and skills-development
A high proportion of workers in the NWT are out-of-territory commuters. Supporting local capacity and skills-development is a project priority. Part of the strategy is to look at how the project can help build a skilled NWT workforce. The project will need to work closely with different government departments, agencies, and organizations with existing capacity-building programs. As the team identifies the types of skills and experience needed for the project, it will work with these partners who deliver programs for capacity-building. This way, people will know about the programs to help them build skills and capacity and how to access them. The project will also make sure Northern and Indigenous peoples and businesses have enough time to develop the needed skills and resources before the work starts.
Anticipating, monitoring and reducing negative impacts
Socio-economic impacts on communities from large projects depend on the nature of the project and on community resilience. Many communities have faced long-term challenges made worse from activities and income from new projects. The team knows negative social impacts might result from changes the project brings to the region. The strategy looks at the negative aspects of mining projects to get an idea of the kinds of impacts this project might cause, such as:
more single parent households
increasing drug and alcohol abuse
more sexually transmitted infections
higher rates of suicide
When the project plan is farther along and more detailed, the team will know more about what kinds of impacts might come from the project. The strategy includes identifying potential negative impacts during this planning stage. That way, plans will include ways to reduce these impacts.
How the project will deal with barriers to carrying out the strategy
The team has identified barriers that could limit the project's ability to achieve socio-economic outcomes. These include:
not enough Northern and Indigenous workforce capacity
changing Northern and Indigenous business and contracting capacity
The strategy identifies different actions the project can take to address these barriers. Some of the things the project team is looking at doing are to:
monitor labour demand to look at risks and opportunities coming from the project schedule particularly during its peak demand for workers
engage with other large projects to learn best ways to support a positive workplace for Indigenous workers
look at how to schedule work packages to 'normalize' the labour demand over the life of the project and to minimize community risks
communicate project needs so organizations who deliver training and capacity-building programs can prepare
develop a list of Northern and Indigenous businesses to share with contractors
engage with Northern and Indigenous businesses before procurement to help them prepare
hold community-specific information sessions and workshops about procurement
monitor business capacity based on other projects in the region
engage with communities to help them plan for, pursue, and participate in economic opportunities
The project also receives advice from different groups, to help it achieve its socio-economic goals. These groups include the:
management board, which provides overall direction and guidance for the socio-economic strategy and activities
senior project committee, which provides oversight, direction and approvals for socio-economic activities and oversees how activities are implemented
socio-economic advisory body, which is co-chaired by the Northern Contaminated Sites Program executive director and regional director general, Northwest Territories, and is made up of senior level representatives from federal, territorial, municipal and Indigenous partners
socio-economic working group, which coordinates and integrates socio-economic activities for the project. The working group shares information and seeks opportunities to improve collaboration. It is made up of team members from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories, Public Services and Procurement Canada, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, City of Yellowknife, and the Main Construction Manager
The project may also create an Indigenous Benefits Plan monitoring and advisory committee to monitor how the main construction manager's Indigenous Benefits Plan is being carried out and provide advice on how to address barriers and improve performance. This work might also be done by the socio-economic advisory body instead of a separate committee.
Measuring the strategy's success
To help measure how successful the strategy is, the project team has developed Key Performance Indicators. The project will measure these in 4 different categories.
Total project employment broken down by full-time and part-time (number of persons, person hours, percentage)
Total employment by northerners, Indigenous, and women (number of persons, person hours, percentage)
Northern Indigenous women (number of persons, person hours, percentage)
Northern Indigenous men (number of persons, person hours, percentage)
Northern non-Indigenous women (number of persons, person hours, percentage)
Northern non-Indigenous men (number of persons, person hours, percentage)