La Ronge and District Chamber of Commerce President Crystal Everest wants laid off Cameco workers to explore their options before deciding to move.
“We’re needing to diversify a bit and those employees are re-evaluating their career choices, hopefully staying in town, finding another career option or going back to school,” she said. “Everyone has family, friends or a neighbour affected through the layoffs, but there’s always a huge positive that comes from the negative.”
It’s been about two weeks since Cameco announced 550 workers, who were initially laid off temporarily, would instead be let go permanently due to low uranium prices. The mines closed include the McArthur River and Key Lake sites, and another 150 employees were laid off at Cameco’s main corporate office. Everest said she believes the uranium industry has been struggling since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.
Throughout 2017 and 2018, Everest also noted businesses in La Ronge have been negatively impacted by job losses combined with an increase to PST. She added there’s been a decrease in revenue in all sectors as many of the Cameco workers who had disposable income no longer do. Everest said with 60 houses currently for sale in the community, that also shows there’s not much interest in purchasing property at the moment.
“We have to step up ourselves, and our businesses as well, to become more diverse in our products and services,” she said. “There’s still a huge opportunity in the North ...for different businesses.”
If residents are interested in starting their own business, Everest noted there are place to go for advice such as banks and government services. She also said there are unique options for First Nations and Métis peoples to pursue business options.
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