If Baffinland Iron Mines is serious about tackling substance abuse among employees, all workers should be screened via urine samples, like the drug-testing process used at the Olympics, Tununiq MLA David Qamaniq said during recent regulatory meetings.

David Qamaniq, Tununiq MLA, would like to see Baffinland Iron Mines put more stringent drug and alcohol testing in place.
photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

Baffinland’s written response to Qamaniq’s comments was that the courts impose legal restrictions on random drug testing of employees. However, the company does conduct drug and alcohol testing when there’s “reasonable cause to believe an employee is impaired,” Baffinland stated.

The miner also noted that it offers multiple levels of support for workers seeking assistance, such as community counselling services, the presence of cultural advisers on site, drug and alcohol education and awareness campaigns on site and access to a 24/7 employee and family assistance program.

On another front, Qamaniq pointed out that Arcelor Mittal, which has a minority ownership stake in the Mary River mine, is a multinational company with projects in numerous nations.

Baffinland replied that “regardless of the number of businesses Arcelor Mittal is invested in, each one is responsible for their own profit and loss and, as such, will attract or shrink investment opportunities.”

Arcelor Mittal reported a loss of $72 million from the Mary River mine in its 2019 filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Emphasizing its impact on the local community, Baffinland noted that it, along with its contractors, employed 60 Pond Inlet residents in 2019. That amounted to $2.7 million in wages. Baffinland also employs four shipping monitors in Pond Inlet each shipping season.

Also in 2019, Baffinland paid $566,982 to several Pond Inlet firms that performed various contracting duties. The community is located 160 km south of the mine.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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