Rogersville mayor questions call centre jobs
Several small communities in New Brunswick are wondering if their pain equals Bathurst's gain after small local call centres have closed and a new government-subsidized facility has opened in the northern city.
Last month, Premier David Alward took credit for a new Thing5 call centre in Bathurst, which opened with the help of a $275,000 payroll rebate and $77,000 in additional financial support.
The Thing5 call centre in Bathurst employs 51 people in the northern community.
But the same company, which recently merged with Virtual Agent Services, has been closing some of its other call centres around the province in communities such as Hillsborough, St-Louis-de-Kent, Neguac, and most recently Rogersville.
Virtual Agent Services started operating in New Brunswick in 1999 and secured loans from the governments of Bernard Lord and Shawn Graham to set up its 19 call centres.
The company was bound to stay in those communities for six years but it was free to move after that time period ended.
But the province wasn’t the only level of government that offered up deals to lure the call centre jobs.
In Rogersville, the village council renovated a building and let the company use it rent-free.
Rogersville Mayor Pierrette Robichaud said many residents were disturbed to see their call centre close while the provincial government helped to open a new one in Bathurst.
"Some of them are frustrated, but we don't know all the facts," she said.
Robichaud, said it was a benefit to have the call centre company in the village because it kept many residents in the community.
"The fact that they didn't have to travel to Miramichi or to Moncton for work helped a lot," she said.
"Some of them don't even own cars. It was nice for that, people who don't have access to a car, who have children at home, they could work right in Rogersville. It was close."
When Alward was in Bathurst to announce the new jobs in February, he praised Thing5.
"It's not sucking jobs away from other places in New Brunswick. The company has lived up to its requirements in the past. They are an outstanding company," Alward said.
"The jobs in Bathurst make sense for this region. We have full confidence in the quality of the company and the quality of the jobs created that they will still continue to grow as well."