Bell Aliant begins Saint John management layoffs

As Bell Aliant continues folding into Toronto's BCE, layoff notices are going out across New Brunswick.

Bell Aliant currently employs approximately 2,400 people in New Brunswick

Bell Aliant to lay off 50 in Saint John 2:13

As Bell Aliant continues folding into Toronto's BCE, layoff notices are going out across New Brunswick.

Dozens of managers in Saint John are the latest to get their pink slips and city officials say it will be a blow to a region already reeling from a sluggish economy.

Bell Aliant currently employs approximately 2,400 people in New Brunswick. A company memo leaked to CBC earlier this month suggested 50 positions are to be eliminated in Saint John.

Halifax is expected to lose a similar number of management jobs.

In an email response today, a company spokesperson says the final number will be around that mark.

Jennifer MacIsaac says there is no change to their previously announced plans.

"We are continuing the integration of two major public companies and addressing duplication in corporate roles," she wrote in the email. "Which means some departures at both Bell Aliant and Bell Canada. Front-line customer service operations and unionized positions are not impacted."

Donna Reardon is City Councilor for Ward 3 says the jobs will be a huge loss for the downtown.

'It's 50 good jobs'

"Say it is 50. Fifty less people driving in every day, 50 less parking spots, 50 less lunches being bought, 50 less people on your street," she said. "I mean amenities animate your community, but people animate your community, and it's 50 good jobs."

Slocum and Ferris is a cafe in the historic Saint John City Market, across from the Bell Aliant offices and where many uptown office workers often grab a quick lunch.

Dave Forestell from the restaurant says on the surface 50 people doesn't sound like much.

"But if it's 50 people out of a buying population, then it's a potential," he said. "If you do the math that's 250 potential purchasers a week, it gets up to a 1,000 a month that all the vendors don't get a chance to take advantage of."

The erosion of office workers in the uptown is part of a longer trend. The empty offices at One Brunswick Square almost exactly mirror the 9.4 per cent vacancy rate in other higher end office buildings in the city. That's up two percentage points from a year ago.

MacIsaac said affected employees will receive a solid, competitive severance package or retirement benefits, and will be provided with career transition services.

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