A Training Program in Northwestern Ontario to Prepare Participants for Job Opportunities in the Construction of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Line

May 17, 2018


A Training Program in Northwestern Ontario to Prepare Participants for Job Opportunities in the Construction of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Line

Thunder Bay, ON, May 17th, 2018- Today, a training program that is designed for those looking to gain direct or indirect employment in the construction of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Line was introduced in Northwestern Ontario, and is already being deemed a success by all participating partners. Wataynikaneyap Power, Opiikapawiin Services, Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA), PowerTel and Oshki- Pimache-O-Win Education & Training Institute have joined together to deliver training programs including Line Crew Ground Support Training, funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Skills and Partnership Fund. The First Nations have been working together since 2013 on community engagement, participation and capacity building to capture maximum employment, training and business opportunities. They recognized that it will be required to develop capabilities and initiate specific training for the people.

Wataynikaneyap Power is a First Nations led project that will connect 17 remote communities to the provincial power grid. 51% of the project is owned by 22 First Nations who have partnered with industry leader, Fortis Inc. “This training program, which is an opportunity that our youth and others can pursue, is a reflection of all the hard work by our team and communities to ensure that the participating First Nation communities are ready to provide an experienced and trained labour force with transferable skills and accredited certifications,” says Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. “We are anticipating a high demand for skilled workers throughout the construction phase of the project, and once the project is completed job opportunities will continue to be available to maintain the transmission line as well as continue a career in the industry.” 

The Wataynikaneyap Power transmission project is currently scheduled to be constructed by the end of 2023, and is projected to create 769 jobs during the construction phase and $900 million in socio-economic benefits. The Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project Training Program is hosting the Line Crew Ground Support Training Course at the GRIDLINK facility in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The program will prepare students for the field, delivering hands on experience, knowledge and training from IHSA.

The Line Crew Ground Support Training Course is a 15-Week certificate program, combining classroom and practical training, that includes several safety courses, ladder and safe pole handling, the fundamentals of working at heights, mobile crane operator training, specifics on pole line construction and several other courses that are required for the position. “The first intake of students are now six weeks into the program and they have been receiving hands on training and gaining an understanding of what to expect out in the field. Safety and the ability to work as a team has been a top priority,” says Dennis Smith, IHSA’s Manager of Powerline Apprenticeship and Training. “The Line Crew Ground Support program is designed and delivered by industry experts to equip participants with work-ready skills and over 25 industry recognized certificates.”

Line Crew Ground Support workers help secure and prepare tools and materials for various line construction and maintenance. Joel Meekis, a participant from Sandy Lake First Nation explains that he is in the program to gain work experience. “I’ve become really interested in the power industry and this course provides a lot of information and skills. It’s a great learning experience to be out in the field as a team, setting poles, climbing poles, and even putting up wire. I believe the course will provide me with the confidence and knowledge I need to gain long-term employment,” says Meekis.

“This type of training has never been offered in the area so it’s definitely an opportunity. I think this is really valuable training, and I don’t have to travel to take the course. I can participate while staying at home with my family,” says Sandrea Morriseau, a participant who is a member of the North Caribou Lake First Nation.

There are three additional intakes for the Line Crew Ground Support Training Course on August 13, 2018, April 29, 2019, and August 19, 2019. The group has a goal to see 48 students receive training certificates. For additional information please visit: www.wataypower.ca.

About Wataynikaneyap Power: Wataynikaneyap Power is a licensed transmission company, regulated by the Ontario Energy Board, equally owned by 22 First Nation communities (51%), in partnership with Fortis (49%). FortisOntario Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis, and an electricity transmission and distribution utility holding company based in Ontario, owns 49% of the general partner of Wataynikaneyap Power and acts as the project manager. To connect remote First Nations communities to the electrical grid, Wataynikaneyap Power will develop, manage construction, and operate approximately 1,800 kilometers of 230 kV, 115 kV, and 44 kV lines in northwestern Ontario. For further information visit www.wataypower.ca.

About Opiikapawiin Services: Opiikapawiin Services was established by a partnership of 22 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario, the 22 First Nations Partnership is also majority owner in Wataynikaneyap Power. Opiikapawiin Services is responsible for administering projects and programs for Wataynikaneyap Power relating to community engagement, community readiness, education & training, business readiness, stakeholder engagement, communications, and capacity building. Opiikapawiin Services will also support the First Nations Partnership in the management of its investment in Wataynikaneyap Power, which includes raising equity for the First Nations interest in the transmission project. For further information visit www.oslp.ca.

About IHSA: IHSA is a leader in health and safety education. Through skills-based training and evaluation, IHSA provides safety solutions to those who perform high-risk activities such as working at heights, working with energized high-voltage power systems, and utility line clearing. For further information visit www.ihsa.ca.

About GRIDLINK: GRIDLINK is an experienced full-service utility infrastructure contractor with over 20 years of work in the power line industry. For further information visit www.gridlink.ca.

Media Contacts:

Amanda Bay
Firedog Communications
(807) 767-4443 Ext 223

Kristine Carmichael
(905) 994-3637