Horizon North layoffs hit 80+ employees in Kamloops

By Chad Klassen
February 4, 2016 - 10:52am Updated: February 4, 2016 - 5:43pm

KAMLOOPS — The decline in the price of oil and a slowdown in the energy field is having a direct impact on a large manufacturing plant in Kamloops forcing Horizon North to lay off 25% of its workforce.

Horizon North confirming to CFJC they are permanently laying off 39 employees and laying off another 48 temporarily at the Kamloops manufacturing facility.

"75% of the production the last five years from the Kamloops facility has gone into the energy or the resource business, and on a daily basis a series of energy companies, and a number of them are customers, have really pulled back on their capital spending for 2016," says President and CEO of Horizon North Rod Graham.

WATCH: Full story by Reporter Chad Klassen

Horizon North manufactures custom-built trailers to accomodate workers at camps in northern B.C. and Alberta. But work in those camps has been dwindling steadily for the past year, costing about 100,000 Canadians their jobs, according to Horizon North.

The company says it's done everything it can in the six months to preserve the jobs. In fact, it hired back 48 employees in December that had been laid off last January. But with oil hovering just above $30 a barrel, layoffs have been inevitable.

"We've had some small permanent modulars, which is a new business focus for us. But we just haven't had enough infrastructure work come in, and so unfortunately we had to make the decision," says Graham. 

With Thursday's layoffs, the Horizon North workforce in Kamloops has now been reduced to 290 employees, another big blow for the city's job market.

"It's certainly disappointing," says Mayor Peter Milobar. "I think it speaks to what we've known is going on in resource extraction up north around oilsands and things like that. I was fortunate enough to take a tour on Tuesday and it looks like they're trying to rejig things and come up with a new strategy to find a new market as well, so hopefully that helps them rebuild a bit."

Looking at the bigger picture, the company says with infrastructure projects on the horizon, promised by the new Liberal government, there could be opportunities in the near future.

In the meantime, another round of layoffs means more Kamloops residents are once again looking elsewhere for work. 

"Hopefully there's a way to absorb them," says Milobar. "Maybe we'll see residential housing pick up just a slight bit, so that can offset some of those job losses."

LISTEN: Full interview with CEO Rod Graham

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