May 26, 2020
SENT VIA EMAIL
The Honourable Blaine Higgs, M.L.A.
Premier of New Brunswick
Dr. Jennifer Wylie-Russell
Chief Medical Officer of Health, New Brunswick
The Honourable Hugh J.A. Flemming, Q.C., M.L.A.
Minister of Health, New Brunswick
The Honourable Trevor Holder, M.L.A
Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
The Honourable Carl Urquhart, M.L.A.
Minister of Public Safety
I would like to begin by commending you and your respective teams for the incredible work you have done in the province of New Brunswick. The border controls and public health measures you implemented, including the specific criteria outlined to enter the province, helped to prioritize the safety of the people of New Brunswick during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With that being said, I’d like to make you aware of an alarming situation developing at the AV Nackawic mill in Nackawic, NB, where Unifor represents 260 workers.
The mill is planning an earlier-than-scheduled shutdown, during which sixty (60) boilermakers from out-of-province (Nova Scotia) are to work in the mill. This is in spite of the fact that other firms in New Brunswick, like Babcock and Wilcox for example, bid on this job and there is no need to bring in workers from out of province to accomplish the needed maintenance.
These workers from Nova Scotia will be housed in a hotel while working in the mill, and will not be subject to a fourteen-day period of self-isolation prior to entering the workplace.
Our members and the community are understandably quite concerned.
It is important to note that AV Cell in Atholville, NB, faced a similar situation several weeks ago and ultimately agreed not to bring in workers from out-of-province. Their shut down went ahead as planned with the exclusive use of resources from New Brunswick.
I understand there have been some changes to the Public Health Guidelines, however I don’t believe bringing in workers from another province with a total lack of quarantine protocol falls under current provisions. My understanding is that these temporary workers will be entering your province on Friday May 29, 2020, and will begin work at the mill immediately.
Local and National Unifor Leadership share in the concern that this situation creates a double standard, wherein corporations are afforded leniency concerning adherence to health restrictions that pose a risk to the general public.
I am urgently requesting a meeting via teleconference or videoconference with Premier Higgs and Dr. Wylie-Russell to further discuss this urgent matter. I appreciate your immediate attention and action. My contact information is below.
Unifor Atlantic Regional Director