Ontario company cancels plans to hire Alberta workers for Fort McMurray cleanup
A Calgary-based staffing firm has had to rescind its job offers to dozens of people after a cleaning company from Ontario decided to hire cleanup crews from outside the province for its upcoming job in Fort McMurray.
According to About Staffing’s CEO Sharlene Massie, her staffing agency and another local firm received a contract from TBM Service Group Inc., a cleaning company situated in Mississauga, Ontario, to staff a bus with workers for a three week contract in the wildfire ravaged city in northern Alberta.
The provincial government tells CTV it did not hire TBM Service Group Inc. It's not clear who hired the company as TBM Service Group Inc. has not responded to multiple interview requests.
The 55 positions paid between $20 and $25 per hour, based on experience, and the job was expected to include overtime hours. Massie said hundreds of prospective applicants responded to the job posting and the company planned to hire Albertans with an emphasis on hiring those impacted by the recent wildfire.
“Our first priority was going to be, and we even put it in our postings, Fort Mac evacuees priority 1 for this assignment,” explained Massie. “Second priority was going to be the people that have experience in restoration and with this type of cleaning because its fire damage cleaning so it’s specialized.”
Interviews were conducted and About Staffing hired members for the cleanup crew. “We had no problem filling the order.”
According to Massie, a representative from the Ontario cleaning company announced the contract was being moved to a staffing agency in Vancouver, B.C. less than 48 hours before the workers About Staffing had hired were to board a bus for Fort McMurray. Massie says the representative did not offer an explanation for the about-face.
About Staffing contacted the temporary workers and notified them of the cancelled contract. Many, including Calgarian Stacey Holden, found the news upsetting.
“I’m quite angry,” said Holden. “I am glad that someone’s helping but Alberta's economy is tanking right now. We could have really used the help and we have people here who are laid off for months and years and they would have helped out and it would have brought money back.”
Holden has loved ones in Fort McMurray and was excited to help out their city in any way possible.
“I’m not being granted that opportunity anymore so it’s kind of sad.”
Tany Yao, MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, struggles to understand why workers are being brought to Fort McMurray from outside the province.
“It’s baffling that in a time of great need, and when many people in Fort McMurray are looking for work, that these jobs would be outsourced,” said Yao during Thursday’s question period in the Legislature.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee says an emphasis will be placed on ensuring Fort McMurray contractors are considered for rebuild jobs.
“The work of cleaning up and rebuilding Fort McMurray will be managed locally within the regional municipality,” explained Larivee. “We’re gathering information on local contractors who are interested in helping with that rebuild.”
Larivee adds no substantial cleanup or rebuilding contracts have been awarded at this time.