Hydro-Quebec has broken an agreement to create jobs for Crees, says a study by Universalia, a Montreal consultants’ group. According to the 1986 Opemiska Agreement, Hydro-Quebec was to create 154 person-years of employment for the Crees. Today’s reality, says Universalia, is that only 10 to 20 person-years of employment have been created since 1986.
Most of the jobs appeared to be only seasonal, Universalia said. In cases where it was unclear, the consultants gave Hydro-Quebec the benefit of the doubt and considered the job to be permanent. The figures in the study, a draft copy of which was obtained by The Nation, are even higher than the utility’s own estimates. The utility itself was unable to provide exact figures.
“This is proof that Hydro-Quebec is unwilling to work with the Crees to bring about the benefits from the existing projects,” said Bill Namagoose, of the Grand Council of the Crees. “It’s true that this type of effort should have been there since the 1970s. It’s proof that the Crees have difficulty getting long-term employment benefits from the projects. Crees will continue to get slashing and rock-washer jobs that’ll end when construction is over. This is a pathological situation that has to be corrected.”