Manitoba Hydro pulls majority of staff from Keeyask venture amid blockades | CBC Information

Manitoba Hydro pulls majority of workers from Keeyask project amid blockades | CBC News

Manitoba Hydro says it has delayed a deliberate shift rotation and pulled nearly all of its staff from the Keeyask hydro venture late Thursday over an ongoing blockade there.

The blockade, which now includes all 4 First Nations who’re companions within the venture, was began by Tataskweyak Cree Nation final weekend as a way to forestall the potential transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The First Nation was served with a courtroom injunction on Wednesday night, however Chief Doreen Spence ripped it up.

“Now we have not lifted our lockdown and can stay in place till we attain some sort of settlement,” she instructed CBC Information on Friday.

In the meantime, New Democrat MP for Churchill-Keewatinook Aski Niki Ashton wrote a letter on Friday to Manitoba Hydro alleging a Keeyask employee did not self-isolate earlier than going to work there.

Ashton says she obtained a “dependable report” {that a} employee was bragging about not self-isolating forward of going again to work.

“This severely compromises Hydro’s dedication to maintain staff and your 4 First Nations companions secure,” she mentioned in her letter to the Crown company’s CEO Jay Grewal, which was printed on her web site on Friday.

Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen mentioned the allegations are false.

“Now we have reviewed our journey data Might 15-22. Two folks travelled from different provinces to Keeyask throughout this time. Now we have confirmed they self-isolated,” he mentioned in an e mail.

Earlier this week, Owen mentioned the Crown company is limiting the variety of out-of-province and out-of-country staff on the web site. They should self-isolate for 14 days and take a look at unfavorable for COVID-19 earlier than they’re allowed to return.

Keeyask is now in care and upkeep mode, which implies solely about 100 individuals are on web site to supply safety and preserve the operations, Owen says.

4 close by First Nations are concerned within the Keeyask hydro venture. They’re additionally concerned in blocking the shift change. (Duk Han Lee/CBC)

“The choice to go to care and upkeep was made when it grew to become clear the unlawful blockade was impacting the security of these at web site and their well-being by blocking shipments of meals, waste elimination and different crucial provides,” he mentioned.

Tataskweyak councillor Nathan Neckoway mentioned folks on the blockade aren’t letting something via as a result of the First Nations need the operations to stop till the COVID-19 menace is over.

“We have been saying our security and well-being is in danger for the reason that starting,” he mentioned. 

The employee shift change, which was speculated to occur on Tuesday, and would have changed the 600 staff on web site on the time with 1,000 others — together with some from exterior of Manitoba and Canada — was postponed, Owen mentioned.

He added the slowdown of operations is costing the Crown company and its ratepayers greater than $1 million a day, plus the prices of transporting staff out of the world, again in at a later date and contractor claims.

Members of the First Nations have mentioned they weren’t consulted in regards to the shift change, ramping up development on the venture or the care and upkeep mode, however Owen mentioned that is not true.

Manitoba Hydro CEO Jay Grewal has tried to arrange a convention name on Wednesday and the Crown company has been in contact about its pandemic plans since mid-March, Owen mentioned.

Though a public well being order prohibits non-essential journey from southern Manitoba into the north, Manitoba Hydro says it was authorised by provincial well being officers to go forward with the shift change and has outlined a plan to verify everybody stays wholesome.

“Our principal focus in creating our pandemic plan for Keeyask is the security and well-being of our workforce, minimizing the potential danger of COVID introduction on the web site and minimizing potential transmission to and from the location to native communities,” Owen mentioned.

“The plan is complete, responds to suggestions and recommendation from public well being officers and has been endorsed by the chief medical officer of Manitoba.”

Nonetheless, the First Nations are nonetheless anxious the transfer would put their security in danger.

Garrison Sofa, the Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which is concerned within the blockade, instructed CBC Information earlier within the week it is a “tradition conflict.”

“I consider that our folks worth the lives of their folks over company pursuits and that is one thing that we maintain very near our hearts.”

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