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N.B. workers at Brunswick Lead Smelter ponder future at job fair

Click to play video: 'Workers at Brunswick Lead Smelter ponder future at job fair' Workers at Brunswick Lead Smelter ponder future at job fair
More than 35 companies were in Belledune, N.B., on Tuesday looking to find their next employees and provide at least a short-term solution to help those without work. – Dec 17, 2019

People in northern New Brunswick impacted by the closure of the Brunswick Smelter had a chance to explore new career opportunities at a job fair Tuesday.

More than 420 positions were slashed when Glencore Canada Corp. announced last month that they’d be permanently closing their facility in Belledune, N.B., by the end of the year.

Deborah Killoran, 61, worked at the smelter for 39 years but isn’t letting the closure get her down.

READ MORE: New Brunswick creates committee to assist people affected by smelter closure

But there are challenges that face some of these workers, like André Comeau.

“It’s been 25 years (working),” he says. “I’ve never made a resumé because every time I went to see for a job, (we’ve) worked it out and the guy would give me a job the next Monday.”

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More than 35 companies were on hand looking to find their next employees and provide at least a short-term solution to help those without work.

Keith Smearer, 47, says he’s keeping all options on the table at this point.

“It’s going to be tough,” he says.

“If nothing happens, I’m thinking about going back to school to try to get another trade again.”

Mining companies, construction companies, even local school districts were among those represented at the job fair. Some are from the local region, and some are from outside New Brunswick.

“That’s one of the tasks I guess that the committee will have, is to look at… what policies or what programs can be in place for the long-term,” says Denis Caron, the president of the province’s transition adjustment committee.

Click to play video: 'Politicians, community members try to figure out what to do next post-closure of New Brunswick smelter in Belldune' Politicians, community members try to figure out what to do next post-closure of New Brunswick smelter in Belldune
Politicians, community members try to figure out what to do next post-closure of New Brunswick smelter in Belldune – Nov 15, 2019

Belledune’s mayor says they’ve been in communication with the provincial and federal governments.

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“We’ll fill some of the jobs that are vacant in the area and it’ll give some of the people who don’t have jobs to see what’s out there,” says Joe Noel.

He says there are four or five companies interested in coming to the area, including Maritime Iron.

But despite the job losses, especially so close to the holiday season, many of these workers are staying optimistic.

“Kick and scream today (won’t) fix anything,” says Comeau. “We’ve got to take it positive.”

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