Northern hiring targets up to 75% for all-season road project in Canada’s Northwest Territories

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Construction on the Tlicho all-season road to Whati is expected to begin this fall and be finished in 2022. (Mark Rendell/CBC)
The Northwest Territories government, in Northern Canada, has revealed northern hiring targets it’s setting for the construction and operation of the Tlicho all-season road.

With an estimated total cost of $411 million to build and operate for 25 years, the 97-kilometre two-lane gravel road from Highway 3 to Whati is the government’s next mega-project. A consortium of companies the government has hired to construct and maintain the road for its first 25 years of operation is set to begin building it this fall.

At a media briefing in Yellowknife, N.W.T. on Thursday, a senior manager with the Northwest Territories Department of Infrastructure set out the northern hiring targets for the project.

During construction, the target will be 35 per cent northern labour. That increases to 55 per cent during the first five years of operation and, using a sliding scale, increases to 75 per cent for the final five years of the contract.

Kevin McLeod, an assistant deputy minister with the Department of Infrastructure, gave a briefing on the Tlicho All-Season Road project on Thursday. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)

Hiring targets are set for most northern mega-projects run by private companies in an effort to encourage them to not simply fly in workers from the south. But the territorial government says, unlike hiring targets set for resource development projects, there will be consequences for not meeting the targets associated with the road.

“There is a system of bonuses and penalties in terms of if you don’t meet the targets,” said Kevin McLeod, the assistant deputy minister of Infrastructure.

He said if targets are not met, there will be discussions about the cause before penalties are assessed.

The targets are set out in the project agreement signed by the Tlicho and N.W.T. governments and Northstar Infrastructure, a consortium composed of Kiewit Canada Development Corp., Peter Kiewit and Sons, Hatch Corp. and Thurber Engineering Ltd. The Tlicho government also has a 20 per cent stake in the project.

Though signed more than six months ago, the agreement has not been made public. An Infrastructure Department official said it will be released when the government launches a website dedicated to the project.

McLeod said for the purpose of the hiring targets, the project agreement defines northerners as anyone with a northern health card — the same definition used for hiring targets set for N.W.T. diamond mines.

He said the definition does not distinguish between northern Indigenous and northern non-Indigenous hires.

An executive committee with representatives of the Tlicho and territorial governments and the consortium will monitor the project, including whether hiring targets are met.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Northerners not ready to cash in on massive mine cleanup in Arctic Canada, report says, CBC News

Finland: Paper mill in northern Finland confirms hundreds of layoffs, Yle News

United States: What kind of spending is expected in Alaska’s construction industry this year?, Alaska Public Media

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Richard Gleeson, CBC News

Richard Gleeson, CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

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