Virtual-Agent Services closing Bathurst call centre
Alward government offered financial assistance in February
Virtual-Agent Services Canada is closing its call centre in the northern city of Bathurst, roughly eight months after Premier David Alward announced financial assistance to attract new jobs to the company.
The call centre company confirmed on Tuesday it had been slowly cutting back on its staff for the last two months.
The provincial government also indicated in a statement the final six jobs had been cut.
"The company advised Invest NB of the loss of the contract and the inevitable position in which it left its Bathurst operations," said Robert MacLeod, the chief executive officer of Invest NB, in a statement.
"While we are disappointed that alternative solutions could not be reached for the Bathurst centre and its employees, we are satisfied that the company has acted according to the terms of our agreement as it proceeded with this difficult business decision."
Ryan Collins, the vice president of operations for VAS Canada, said in a statement the company "sincerely" regretted its decision to shutter the Bathurst call centre.
He said VAS employs nearly 600 people in 10 other call centres in New Brunswick.
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"We remain committed to growing our Canadian operations in the province," he said in a statement.
Enterprise Chaleur is working with VAS Canada to help workers who are losing their jobs find work in other call centres or businesses in the region.
The decision to close the northern call centre comes roughly eight months after the provincial government announced $77,000 in financing from the Northern New Brunswick Economic Development and Innovation Fund and $275,000 in payroll rebates from Invest NB.
The provincial government said the company will repay the $77,000 in provincial financing and the $275,000 in payroll rebates was never paid out because the jobs were not maintained.
When Radian6 announced last week it was cutting jobs in New Brunswick, Invest NB said funding it had promised the company through payroll rebates had not been handed out yet.
When the funding for the Bathurst call centre was announced in February, Premier David Alward praised the company even though VAS had recently closed call centres in Hillsborough, St-Louis-de-Kent, Neguac and Rogersville.
But Alward said the Bathurst operation made "sense for this region."
"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 in February.
"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."