Nova Scotia's transportation minister says the overwhelming response to the posting of new government jobs in Sydney speaks to the desperate employment situation on the island. 

The Transportation Department is looking to fill 13 positions, both full and part time, at a new dispatch operation centre to be located in the Grand Lake Road fire hall in Sydney.

The deadline for applications was Thursday. As of Thursday morning, the department had received 650 applications.

Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said he's not surprised by the responses but the interest sends the message loud and clear to government that there's more work to do.   

"When you see this type of process and when the senior staff from operations started to receive these applications online, and the number really just sprinted off the block — it does speak volumes," he said.

Good jobs hard to find

"I think that for the people here at transportation and across government, you know, we certainly have lots of work to do but this establishes that recognition that these jobs are key and will be well-received when they come to Cape Breton."

Denise Reulland of New Waterford is one of the applicants. She's been looking for work since April, but full-time, well-paying jobs are extremely hard to come by. That's why the posting was so attractive.

"Well, it pays good, obviously and and being a single mom with two kids, one of whom has special needs, you need that little bit of stability there," she said.

Adding positions a possibility

MacLellan said for now, he'll look into the possibility of adding more jobs to the Grand Lake Road centre.

"We have a number of dispatch and contact functions that we do as a provincial government, EMO for example," he said.

"Really, there are a lot of efficiencies that could be gleaned by adding people to this particular type of contact centre. So we're going to look at that, not in the long-term, not down the road, but right away."

In the meantime, MacLellan said the selection process for the 13 positions will undoubtedly be a daunting task. 

Denise Ruelland knows it too: "I'm crossing my fingers, crossing my toes, crossing my eyes!"