St. Stephen rallies around former Sobeys employees

St. Stephen businesses are rallying to help about 60 employees of the former Sobeys store by holding a job fair in the town on Thursday.

Chamber of Commerce holding job fair for about 60 people left jobless after town's Sobeys closed Sunday

St. Stephen businesses are holding a job fair Thursday for former Sobeys employees in the southwestern New Brunswick town.

The local store closed on Sunday, putting more than 60 people out of work.

The Sobeys store in St. Stephen closed on July 5, along with about 50 other locations across the country. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
David Archambault, president of the St. Stephen Area Chamber of Commerce, said a number of Charlotte County businesses are looking for workers, especially in light of changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

"We know for instance there's fraudulent activity in the unemployment insurance or the employment insurance program. We know there's fraudulent activity in the provincial welfare program, everyone knows this," he said.

"We don't close those programs down and yet this program, which seemed to suit, especially some of these rural areas, I guess it's just not available the way some of these companies would like."

The job fair will be held Thursday at the St. Croix Vineyard Church in St. Stephen from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander recently announced an overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to send employers a clear signal that abuse of the program will not be tolerated and that they must redouble their efforts to hire Canadians first.

The revamped program will bar employers from hiring foreign workers in regions where unemployment is high, it will put a cap on the number of workers employers can hire, include a more stringent screening process for employers to prove they need to hire a foreign worker over a Canadian one, and increase the number of spot checks in the workplace and fines for those who break the rules.

Sobeys announced on June 26 it was closing about 50 underperforming stores across Canada, including six in the Atlantic region.

The St. Stephen location was among them. People in the town now have to shop at the Superstore, or across the border in Calais, Maine.

The Foodland stores in Tracadie, Perth-Andover, Edmundston, Nashwaaksis, and Amherst, N.S., have also closed.