News of the big job cuts coming to the Michelin tire plant in Granton, N.S., is rippling through Pictou County, with residents stunned by the announcement and worried about what it will mean to the region.
Many people in the small community have friends or family members who work at the plant and the 500 job cuts over the next 18 months will be a blow to the area.
Joe Hawes, the mayor of the Town of Pictou, has a brother, son-in-law and cousin who work at the plant.
"I get thinking about the young families that are going to be moving away," he said. "They’ll have to, because the jobs, the economy around Pictou County right now, there’s not a lot of jobs."
Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. announced on Monday plans to cut 200 jobs by the end of June and another 300 by June 2015. The layoffs come as a surprise to almost everyone, including employees at the Granton plant.
"No, it’s not something that we seen coming at all," said Paul Knight, who works at the Michelin facility but has not lost his job.
The plant lies in the riding of Central Nova MP and federal cabinet minister Peter MacKay.
"We’re very troubled, saddened by the news," he said Monday. "Significant layoffs will hurt a lot of families in my community."
The job cuts will mean another excuse for people to move away, says Richard Dunbar, who travels back and forth between his home in Pictou County and work in the West.
"I have a lot of friends that do work [at Michelin] and they’ve worked there since they got out of school," he said.
"Here they are now and a lot of them are going to be unemployed. The way things are around here now, we can't afford to have any more people that are unemployed in Pictou County."
Mary Walsh’s brother-in-law just retired from Michelin and she has friends whose husbands still work there.
"That’s unbelievable," she said of the job cuts. "That is so going to hurt the county. There’s so many people unemployed right now already that that would be detrimental. I can’t imagine."