Union warns of future ACOA cuts

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency may be a target for future cuts from the federal government, according to a union official.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency may be a target for future cuts from the federal government, according to a union official.

ACOA announced it would cut 42 jobs on Wednesday as part of a plan to slice $15.2 million from the agency’s budget.

Gary Corbett, the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said he expects the federal government to make even more cuts at the agency that is supposed to create economic development in Atlantic Canada.

"This is part of last year’s cuts, this is not part of the coming deficit reduction action plan that was announced by [Finance Minister Jim] Flaherty which means they're looking for another $4 billion each over the next number of years," Corbett said.

"You'll see it in next year’s budget each department and agency has been asked to find five per cent or 10 per cent cuts in addition to this. So we don't expect that this is the end."

The cuts are part of department-wide reviews as the federal government tries to trim costs and reduce budgets.

The federal government says the cuts are being made to make ACOA, which is based in Moncton, more efficient.

Corbett said counsellors who help small entrepreneurs start their own businesses are being eliminated as a part of the cost-cutting initiative.

The loss of those positions comes at an inopportune time for Moncton.

Maple Leaf Foods announced on Wednesday that it was closing its Moncton facility and it would lead to 460 people losing their job.

Corbett said they could have been given help to start their own business.

"Let’s say some of those people want to stick around and be entrepreneurs, where are they going to go for assistance to do that," Corbett said.

"ACOA is one of those organizations that could help them start up new companies to perhaps generate a company that would hire and provide employment for others in the area."