Northern Lights College in Tumbler Ridge received a $150,000 grant to support workers impacted by the curtailment of mining activities in the area.
The Ministry of Advanced Education funding will go towards retraining workers who are adjusting to life after coal.
The training, to be offered at the local college, will “complement the skills and experience the workers already have, along with helping them develop new skills,” the ministry says.
The new education dollars fall under the mandate of British Columbia’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint.
Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier says the funding comes at just the right time for the community of Tumbler Ridge, which has suffered since Walter Energy, Inc. scaled back their production, eventually halting it altogether.
The Alabama-based company idled both its Brule and Wolverine mines near Tumbler Ridge in spring 2014, putting 700 workers out of a job. In 2013, operations were curtailed at the Willow Creek mine near Chetwynd, throwing 250 people out of work.
In April 2015, another round of layoffs occurred, as the remaining workers at the Brule mine were scaled back even further, with layoff notices issued to 23 employees.
That same month, 27 workers at the Willow Creek mine were issued layoff notices.
"We had a considerable amount of coal [out of] the ground and as we near the depletion of that stockpile, that is what is driving this decision," William Stanhouse, vice president of corporate communications for Walter Energy told the Alaska Highway News in April.
The province will focus the latest funding on retraining workers for in-demand jobs.
“[We’re] helping people obtain skills for jobs when they need it most,” MLA Mike Bernier said. “[This] will help open doors to new career opportunities in Tumbler Ridge.”
Northern Lights College President Dr. Bryn Kulmatycki welcomed the grant, saying “[we are] proud to work with the Ministry of Advanced Education and our local community partners to provide training opportunities for workers affected by the mine suspensions.