New Democratic Party Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on Premier David Alward to cancel a $3.8-million payroll rebate agreement with Radian6 after its parent company announced 100 job cuts.
The company would not confirm how many jobs were being lost in its offices in Fredericton, Saint John and Halifax.
The province’s NDP leader said the provincial government should cut its financial ties with Radian6.
"I am calling on the premier to cancel the $3.8 million handout to Radian6 and to provide a full accounting of how the rebate was negotiated, what conditions were included, and how the government plans to avoid similar mistakes in the future," Cardy said in a statement.
The job cuts are coming four months after the social media monitoring company announced plans to create 300 new full-time jobs in Fredericton and Saint John with the help of a $3.8-million payroll rebate from the provincial government.
Louis-Philippe Gauthier, a vice-president with Invest NB, said on Wednesday the provincial government has not paid any of the $3.8 million in payroll rebates to the company.
He said the provincial government is in the first year of a five-year agreement with Radian6. Gauthier said the company must supply human resources information to qualify for the funding and that has not happened yet.
If the company fails to meet the job targets, Gauthier said the provincial government will not pay the full amount.
But the Invest NB vice-president said Radian6 has assured the provincial government "they are in growth mode."
However, the NDP leader said Alward has some difficult questions to answer over the Radian6 deal.
"If Radian6 used any of the $3.8 million that means they spent our tax money and then killed New Brunswick jobs. If they didn’t use the money that means the government knows that Invest NB is an investment in Conservative poll numbers, not the New Brunswick economy," he said in a statement.
'Sector is healthy'
Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside said he was disappointed by the layoffs at Radian6. Woodside described Radian6 as one of the city's "shining stars" and the news of the layoffs "didn't start my day off very good."
"I still haven't really been informed as to how many jobs we're talking about and what location and so, I would reserve any comment until I know what's happening," he said.
"But I must say that it's very disconcerting. It's not a very good time to be losing jobs and that's the side of the economy right now that concerns me."
Despite the job cuts, Larry Sampson, the chief executive officer of the New Brunswick IT Council, said he believes the province’s technology sector is still strong.
"You never like to see people lose their jobs, for sure. And you never like to see anything associated with shrinkage around the sector," he said on Thursday.
The IT industry official said he doesn’t think the Radian6 cuts are "that big a deal" for the overall New Brunswick technology sector.
Sampson said he’s hopeful the employees who have lost their jobs will be able to find work in the sector quickly.
"The sector is healthy, the sector is growing, with any luck at all these folks will be able to find work in relatively short order," he said.
Sampson said he believes the cuts are being prompted by higher than expected losses with Buddy Media, which Salesforce also recently acquired. He said Salesforce could be looking to recoup some of those losses through these cuts.
Radian6 was founded in 2006 and considered a technology darling in New Brunswick. The company was acquired by Salesforce.com in March 2011 for $326 million.
The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, which was started after an investment from the provincial government, earned $9.25 million after selling its stake of Radian6 Technologies in 2011.
The company tracks what's being said about products on social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
Its clients include global giants, such as Dell, General Electric, Pepsi and Molson.