The local branch of the East Kootenay Employment organization is ramping up to help Canfor Canal Flats mill employees facing massive layoffs in less than a week transition to other work.

“Currently East Kootenay Employment Columbia Valley (located in Invermere) is helping a number of employees from Canal Flats Canfor. Other offices, including Cranbrook, have also started working with Canfor staff. We expect more will request assistance after the official layoff date and we look forward to working with them,” said case manager Jennie Hilder, adding the transition team set up by Canfor has said many mill employees are interested in retraining for other work.

“East Kootenay Employment offices have been preparing for this spike in individuals interested in accessing training services to ensure we are able to complete training plans for all eligible workers,” she said.

Although Ms. Hilder can’t yet predict how many laid off mill employees are likely to remain in the valley in new jobs, she did express optimism about the layoffs coinciding with the summer tourist season.

“There are many employers in town looking to hire new employees. This is a good time in the Columbia Valley to be looking for work as many employers are busy preparing for the approaching busy season and are looking to hire,” said Ms. Hilder.

At the local employment office, Work BC is offering the mill workers computer and resume help, career and skills assessments, training and certificates, work experience placements, self-employment, apprentice support, financial support, and a number of employment related skill building workshops.

The organization works individually with people, with each having his or her own unique return to work action plan.

“Each action plan is developed on a case by case basis to ensure all needs are met and all required services and supports are delivered in a timely manner. There is no charge as all employment services are free,” said Ms. Hilder.

This isn’t the first time East Kootenay Employment has dealt with such a situation, with Work BC having first opened its doors in early April 2012, just after the mass layoffs at the Canfor mill in Radium Hot Springs.

For more information, visit ekemployment.org or stop by the local East Kootenay Employment office.