Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Chunks of coal on the beach around Union Bay, B.C.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

A federal department approved a bulk application for temporary foreign employees at a B.C. coal mine despite concerns about workers' language skills and how the company would gradually shift to hiring Canadians, according to newly released documents.

"Lack of requirement for English for [foreign workers] in underground mining occupations raises some concerns regarding the employer's ability to attract/train and transition to Canadian workers," says one document, which was made public Friday as part of a court case concerning Chinese workers at a B.C. coal project.

"The employer has stated that English-language training will be provided, that interpreters and English-speaking foremen will facilitate on-the-job training and transfer of skills to Canada. Still it is reasonable to question how successful the employer will be in attracting, training or retaining Canadians, while the language of mine operation is predominantly Mandarin," the document states.

Story continues below advertisement

The person who prepared the document – entitled Bulk Request Assessment and Recommendation and issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada – noted that they were "unaware of any [temporary foreign worker program] policy that would allow for a refusal based on workplace language."

The recommendation was released as part of a court

case in which two B.C. labour unions are seeking a judicial review of the process that

gave Vancouver-based HD Mining permission to hire 201 foreign workers for its Murray River coal project near Tumbler Ridge.

Other documents released on Friday include an application from HD Mining for a labour market opinions in which it cites Mandarin as a language requirement for the positions and states that "Chinese workers will speak Chinese in a team environment and will receive English language training."

HD Mining issued a statement on Friday that said the company included Mandarin on the temporary foreign worker application simply to indicate the language spoken by the foreign workers it had already recruited.

"When we were unable to recruit any qualified Canadians, we applied for and received permission from [Human Resources and Skills Development Canada] to hire temporary foreign workers," the statement said.

Story continues below advertisement

"The application required [HD Mining] to identify the language spoken by the foreign workers. The qualified foreign workers we recruited are Mandarin speaking. Mandarin is the language that these workers speak, but was not a requirement in our recruitment efforts."

Under Canada's temporary foreign worker program, employers have to show what efforts they have made to hire locally – before they can hire foreign workers.

HD Mining has said it was unable to find Canadians or permanent residents to do the jobs and that it complied with all aspects of the temporary foreign worker program.

The unions applied to see documents relating to HD Mining's approved foreign workers.

The company, as well as the federal government, have objected to the scope of the unions' request and the two sides spent five days in closed hearings on the issue.

On Friday, Justice Douglas Campbell ordered that completed application forms, along with supporting documents, be released.

Story continues below advertisement

Documents that had been the subject of the previous in-camera hearings were released Friday.

The court case resumes next week, when the unions are expected to seek an injunction that would prevent more foreign workers from coming to the project until the process is reviewed.

Seventeen workers have already arrived and another 60 are scheduled to arrive some time in December.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies