Bell Aliant has announced it's cutting as much as half the workforce at its new Ontera division.

The communications company has told workers at least 40 positions will be eliminated over the next two years. Some management positions are also being cut.

The news comes just months after the province announced the sale of the telecommunications arm of Ontario Northland to Bell Aliant.

A spokesperson with the United Steelworkers local that represents many Ontera workers said the company did not explain why it's cutting the positions.

"I don't know that, based on their company plan or projection," Ron Marleau said. "I believe [it] is part of their plan that they gave to the government."

Ontera was sold to Bell Aliant for $6 million and some future revenue, as part of a plan to divest the entire ONTC. The sale is expected to become final next month.

The province has since backtracked on divesting the rest of the ONTC, and announced in the spring the other divisions would stay in public hands.

Bell Aliant has not yet responded to requests for an interview. In a statement it says the changes are needed to ensure the future success of Ontera and that Bell Aliant's experience in northern Ontario will allow it to continue providing a quality service.

Marleau said he questions the impact the cuts will have on service for Ontera customers.

"That will be something we will have to look back [on] and say 'I told you so', or they will provide the service. We don't know that for sure."