Nutrien adapts to continue business, employment during pandemic
- NC Raine | June 03, 2020
One of Saskatchewan's foremost corporations is adjusting to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic and helping communities at risk of being left behind.
Nutrien, which employs more than 4,200 people and operates 6 mines across the province, understands the need to continue operating at full capacity and has not stalled on hiring or job recruitment, said Lisa Mooney, Nutrien Global Lead of Sustainability and Strategic Inclusion.
In March, Saskatchewan lost more than 20,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate in the province is expected to reach 8.7 per cent but Nutrien is finding ways to continue recruiting workers.
“Normally we engage face to face, but with social distancing that's not something we can do,” she said.
Nutrien usually goes to communities and tells people about job opportunities and gives them tips on how to apply. Now, job seekers can connect online, post their resumes and have questions answered live, she said.
“We can email job seekers positions that apply to their skill set so they can apply directly with us for those roles. And we will share our supply chain job postings as well, because if we're still working, so is our supply chain,” Mooney said.
One of Nutrien's most vital partners in community investment is the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC), which has maintained a relationship with Nutrien for nearly a decade.
“I call them an elephant, because elephants follow other elephants. When you have one industry leader moving in this direction with respect to reconciliation, other major industry players follow,” said Clifford Tawpisin, STC Chief Executive Officer.
Mooney said Nutrien has provided funds for the Tribal Council’s food program that is feeding over 400 families daily in Saskatoon. The Tribal Council estimates all of the 70 First Nations in the province have citizens living in Saskatoon. Nutrien provides support that enables STC to cook meals, package them, and deliver them to homes.
Nutrien is also working with STC and Nutrients for Life to provide sustainable food security for First Nations. It will provide ten garden boxes per community, an in-ground garden plot and will supply communities with rototillers, garden tools and seeds.
“Not only would this create some food security, but this will limit exposure, as (individuals) wouldn't have to leave their community nearly as often,” said Mooney.
The food sustainability project also benefits First Nations youth, said Tawpisin. Nutrien sponsors STC's entrepreneurship program in all seven STC communities, giving youth confidence and new skills.
“Through food security and community gardens, we're ensuring these kids take this leadership role in working with the rest of the community, as well as working with elders in preserving vegetables,” said Tawpisin. “We're making sure that food security in our communities, while going through a crisis like this, will not be an issue.”
“Because we're leaders in agriculture, it made sense for us that we would support communities in regards to food security and gardens,” added Mooney.
Nutrien and STC are also collaborating on an approach to mental health for young people.
“There are sometimes mental health issues with youth, and in some communities, issues with suicide. So we wanted to find a way to engage with youth,” she said. “We are engaging youth as leaders in the gardening project, hoping the engagement of youth as leaders will assist in coping with mental health challenges,” said Mooney. “We are creating an online platform for them to engage with other communities as well as gain support for their gardens and have an opportunity to share pictures, ask questions and share successes related to the gardening project.”
“Our partnership with Nutrien has been a huge success,” said Tawpisin.
Nutrien, formerly known as PotashCorp, is a staple in Saskatchewan's economy and leader in philanthropy and community support. It is the largest potash producer in the world, and third largest producer of nitrogen fertilizer. “Nutrien is part of the global food supply chain. That's what makes us an essential service,” Mooney said.
“In order for growers to be able to grow enough food around the world, they need potash, nitrogen, and phosphate as products to support their crops. And we also have those retail sites that work with the growers,” she said.
Nutrien’s mining facilities and branch locations now have limited access and stringent safety protocols are in place to ensure the health of employees, but there have been no disruptions to production, according to a statement released by the company.