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COVID-19 resources for Canada’s natural resources sectors

COVID-19: Important updates

The natural resources sectors are critical in the daily lives of Canadians, and to Canada’s economy. There are hundreds of natural resources sector operations and major projects under construction across Canada, employing thousands of workers.

As provinces and territories gradually reopen their economies, many worksites in the natural resources industries are ramping up or resuming operations. Protecting the health of workers and the communities where they work is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19. As a result, provinces, territories, federal regulators and industry associations have provided practical information on public health measures.

For the most up-to-date information on public health measures by provinces and territories and federal regulators, refer to the links below and contact the appropriate authorities as necessary.

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Protecting the health and safety of local and Indigenous communities

The Government of Canada is working with provinces, territories, industry, and communities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 between natural resources workers and the communities where they work. The resources below provide further information on how Provinces, Territories, and industry are working to safeguard the health and safety of communities and minimize the potential transmission of COVID-19 to local and Indigenous populations. Clear communications and partnerships between Indigenous communities and natural resource industries should be established with the objective of seeking to understand community concerns and identifying ways to address the concerns.

Guidance for Indigenous Communities

Guidance for Industry

Work camps and industrial camps

Work camps are accommodations provided to employees in sectors such as mining, logging or hydro construction, located in remote areas that do not have the critical resources or medical facilities. Provinces and territories and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offer guidance for industries with respect to work camps and industrial camps in the following areas:

  • physical distancing
  • hygiene and protective actions
  • food safety
  • worker accommodations
  • symptom monitoring
  • community engagement

Energy sector

Canada’s energy sector is critical to providing the power used to keep our hospitals running, our homes heated, and providing the fuel needed for trucks, rail and trains that ship our products.

Provinces, territories and federal regulators offer guidance for energy sector industries to protect the health of workers and communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mining sector

Canada’s mining and mineral sectors produce materials that are critical for medical technologies, medication, electronics, agriculture, and energy production.

Provinces, territories, federal organizations, and industry associations offer guidance for mining sector industries to protect the health of workers and communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Forest sector

Canada’s forest sector plays a key role in the production of personal protective equipment (e.g., surgical facemasks) and household products, which help in the fight against COVID-19.

Provinces and territories offer guidance for forest sector industries to protect the health of workers and communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Specific guidelines for tree planting and other in-forest activities (silviculture, harvesting) have been developed for workers who often reside in camps away from their home.

Manufacturing operations (sawmills, pulp and paper mills) would follow general guidance provided for industrial activities.

Industry actions

Natural resources industries have taken action to adhere to the public health measures and protect the health of workers and communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Examples include:

Monitoring workers for symptoms

To prevent spread into the worksite, or into nearby communities, companies like Gahcho Kué Mine in the Northwest Territories, have been testing and monitoring workers for COVID-19 symptoms. The most popular screening method is temperature testing, including thermal imaging cameras to screen the temperature of employees before entering work areas.

Diavik Mine in the Northwest Territories, placed employees and contractors with specific risk factors on paid leave and implemented a full suite of worker screening measures at site that includes an on-site COVID-19 GuardRX testing laboratory to test all employees and contractors when they arrive and leave site.

Agnico Eagle in Nunavut, is testing their employees before entering their worksite. They are using a certified mobile testing system. This system is also being used by Glencore at the Raglan mine.

Implementing physical distancing practices

Industry has:

  • modified shift schedules to facilitate time for appropriate self isolation by reducing the number of shift changes or number of people present at one time, by increasing the number of days in/days out, staggering shifts, or reducing hours of operation;
  • staggered lunch breaks and reduced the capacity of shuttle services transporting workers to and from worksites. Where physical distancing is not possible, industry is providing and mandating the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), or clean, non-medical face coverings, depending on the circumstances, to protect workers from potential transmission;
  • modified practices at shared cafeterias and lunchrooms at worksites, including a removal of buffet lunches, limiting those able to handle food, and requiring the use of individually wrapped utensils for all meals.

Thompson Mine in Manitoba has required the use of respirators in their elevator cages due to the difficulty of maintaining physical distancing in these confined areas.

Barrick Hemlo Gold Mine in Ontario adjusted its elevator cages to create new cage separation systems allowing for 13 workers with their own plexiglass cubicles to social distance in the cages. This project was endorsed by Thunder Bay Health and the Ministry of Labour.

Promoting hygiene and protection

Industry is leveraging the expertise of healthcare experts to implement policies that include the education of workers on increased hygiene practices and improving the frequency and intensity of cleaning.

Industry is also looking to innovative methods to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of sanitization.

Trans Mountain Corporation and Meliadine Mine employ experts and medical professionals to develop enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols.

Canfor Wood Products in British Columbia has its operators disinfect their workstations before every shift.

Ontario Power Generation is exploring options to employ handheld ultraviolet-C sterilizers to clean surfaces and incoming shipments.

Vale Industries employs an online wellness platform, Medisys on Demand, to remotely screen its employees.

Companies like Bruce Power, Suncor, AECL, and CNL donated PPE, including medical face masks, clothing, face shields, hand sanitizer and gloves, for front line health care workers.

Engaging with local leaders and Indigenous peoples

Industry is engaging with local community leaders and Indigenous peoples in the communities where they operate.

Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC) is responding to Indigenous communities’ concerns about the increased health and personal safety needs of their communities during the pandemic. TMC is putting measures in place to ensure Indigenous worker personal safety and prevention, proactive information disclosure, and enhanced engagement.

De Beers Group allocated US$50,000 funding to be shared among four shelters in the communities surrounding De Beers Group’s Gahcho Kué and Victor operations. In addition, De Beers Group in Canada has made contributions to a number of organizations in the form of food and medical supplies. In the Northwest Territories, the YWCA NWT and the Yellowknife Women’s Centre (YWC) are recipients of funding, food and supplies.

Providing wage security for workers

Industry has also taken into consideration the financial toll that work stoppages have on communities and families.

Vale’s Voisey’s Bay Mine is supporting the workers it sent home (who unable to work from home) by paying a percentage of their wages and continuing benefits.

Diavik Diamond Mines, Mary River Mine, Meadowbank Mine Complex, and Doris North Hope Bay, Raglan and Cigar Lake mines sent local Indigenous workers from vulnerable northern communities home with pay to avoid interaction with workers traveling into worksites from other parts of Canada.

Federal resources

Indigenous Service Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
Canada Energy Regulator
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Coronavirus Information Government of Canada COVID-19 Information Hub
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
COVID-19 Dashboard
Download COVID Alert App today
COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool
Get Email Updates on COVID-19

Provincial and territorial resources

New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Northwest Territories
British Columbia
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador

Offshore Petroleum Boards

Canada-Nova-Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board
Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

Industry associations

Mining Industry
Energy industry
Petroleum Services Association of Canada COVID-19 Resources for PSAC Members
Canadian Gas Association COVID-19 Resources and Guidelines
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources
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