The West White Rose project site in Argentia, N.L., is seen from the air in an undated handout photo. A Newfoundland and Labrador labour organization says Husky Energy laid off 75 workers from its stalled West White Rose offshore oil project a day after receiving $41.5 million in federal cash to maintain jobs at the site. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-TradesNL, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Layoffs at Husky worksite announced after company gets $41.5 million in public cash

Layoffs at Husky worksite announced after company gets $41.5 million in public cash

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The head of a Newfoundland and Labrador labour organization says there were hopes a few dozen tradespeople might be rehired at Husky’s West White Rose worksite in Argentia, N.L., after last week’s announcement of $41.5 million in federal funding for the project.

Instead, TradesNL director Darin King says he’s flabbergasted to hear of more layoffs that will leave just 10 skilled tradespeople at a site that once employed 2,700.

King says he found out Friday that 15 trade workers and 60 project management staff would be laid off from the site in Argentia where the bulk of Husky’s massive concrete gravity base offshore oil platform is being built.

Layoff news has plagued the site since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Friday’s news came just a day after a big press conference to announce the $41.5 million aimed at maintaining jobs at the two West White Rose worksites.

Husky spokeswoman Colleen McConnell says the layoffs affect non-unionized workers employed by the company’s contractor, SNC-Lavalin-Dragados-Pennecon General Partnership or SDP.

McConnell would not confirm the number of layoffs, and SDP did not respond to a request for comment.

King says the funding is expected to boost the number of tradespeople working at Husky’s Marystown, N.L., site on Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula, but he’s disappointed that tradesworkers at the Argentia site are continuing to face job losses.

“For those that are working on site, they’re just perplexed. They can’t understand how we could have such a huge announcement one day and literally 15, 16 hours later find out there’s job losses when the announcement was intended to protect jobs,” King said in an interview.

Husky Energy announced in October that construction on its massive concrete offshore oil platform was suspended until at least 2022 as the company reconsidered its future in the province. The West White Rose project would extend the life of Husky’s White Rose oilfield, about 350 kilometres off the coast of St. John’s. A spokesperson at the time said abandoning all operations was a possibility.

During last week’s funding announcement for the company, Premier Andrew Furey said Husky was matching the public money with its own $41.5 million investment. The arrangement doesn’t guarantee the West White Rose project would be revived, but King said he’s still behind the province’s decision to support the project.

However, he would like to know exactly how the public portion of the money will be spent, and he’s written a letter to Husky asking for details. He sent the letter to Furey and Energy Minister Andrew Parsons as well.

“Husky has an obligation to speak to this and they have an obligation to speak to it very quickly,” King said. “People are not happy, and people have a right to know where their taxpayer money is going.”

In an emailed statement, Parsons said he was not aware of the layoffs until Friday. He said his office contacted Jonathan Brown, Husky’s Atlantic senior vice president, who said he also wasn’t aware until Friday.

Parsons said the 331 positions supported by the government funding include trades positions largely located at the Marystown site.

“Husky’s original plan, without government investment, would have resulted in the suspension of all construction activities and put both the Argentia and Marystown sites in preservation and maintenance mode,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Many students and staff at St. Joseph High School are in COVID-19 quarantine. (File photo by JeffAdvocate staff)
St. Joseph High School students return to at-home learning today

Majority of students under COVID-19 quarantine

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Supreme Court ends Trump emoluments lawsuits

Outcome leaves no judicial opinions on the books

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Military to support vaccination efforts in northern Ontario Indigenous communities

Canadian Armed Forces to support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London on January 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kirsty Wigglesworth
Shell buys European electric car charging firm ubitricity

Experts say easier access to charging facilities key to successful rollout of electric vehicles

FILE— In this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo, Vashti Cunningham poses for photographers after winning the women’s high jump final at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in New York. Cunningham is one of the athletes who will be competing in the American Track League, which opens a four-week-long series on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in an indoor setting at the University of Arkansas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez. File)
Back on track: Competing, not cash, lures big names to meet

American Track League begins a four-week indoor series at the University of Arkansas

Eugene Levy, left, and his son Dan Levy accept the Best Comedy Series Award for ‘“Schitt’s Creek” at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Dan Levy to make ‘Saturday Night Live’ hosting debut on Feb. 6

‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-creator to host show

Toronto Maple Leafs' Alexander Kerfoot, centre, tries to get the puck past Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, right, as Noah Hanifin looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Morgan Reilly’s three assists lifts Maple Leafs to 3-2 win over Flames

Leafs 3 Flames 2 CALGARY — Morgan Reilly’s three assists helped the… Continue reading

Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos (31) reacts after intercepting a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Road warriors: Bucs win 31-26 at Green Bay, reach Super Bowl

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ road… Continue reading

People arrive to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, January 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Too soon to know if Canada’s COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

MONTREAL — It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward… Continue reading

Most Read