New Brunswick

OrganiGram CEO Denis Arsenault defends government funding

The CEO of OrganiGram, a Moncton-based medicinal marijuana company, says funding from the Gallant government will provide an excellent return to taxpayers, creating more than 200 good-paying jobs.

Denis Arsenault says 'sizeable' investment by taxpayers will help create more than 200 Moncton jobs

The CEO of Moncton's OrganiGram says funding from the Gallant government will help the company to create new jobs and meet the increased demand for marijuana expected in the next few years. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The CEO of OrganiGram, a Moncton-based medicinal marijuana company, says funding from the Gallant government will provide an excellent return to taxpayers, creating more than 200 well-paying jobs.

Denis Arsenault's comments come after opposition MLAs criticized the $990,000 in payroll rebates announced earlier this week.

In question period on Thursday, Progressive Conservative MLA Kirk MacDonald and Green Party Leader David Coon both said the Liberal government should have discussed the decision with the public before moving ahead.

Arsenault says the company employs 43 people currently and the plan is to continue adding jobs and expanding the Moncton facility so it can meet the expected demand when recreational marijuana is legalized.

"There's no debating it'll be a minimum of $5 billion per year in sales and we're very fortunate that there is a licence in New Brunswick … the only one east of the Ottawa region and we want to make sure that we take as much of that pie as possible for jobs here in New Brunswick," he told Information Morning Moncton on Friday.

Arsenault said the government funding will allow OrganiGram to increase its production capacity from the current $25 million in annual sales to as much as $200 million.

"I have 29 competitors across the country and moving forward, all of those companies will be expanding and chasing the same capital," he said.

"At the end of the day there are still pieces of the puzzle that are missing to be able to expand and create more employment here and the government's assistance helps us to make sure that we can attract that capital." 

OrganiGram to hire locally

The $990,000 in payroll rebates is being provided through Opportunities NB Inc. and includes up to $8,761 for up to 113 jobs.

To qualify for the rebate OrganiGram salaries must be at least $40,000 and the jobs must be maintained for at least three years.

For anybody who is working in our area or even people that are working in other parts of the country that would like to come home, the marijuana industry is one anyone can see is going to be very large.- Denis Arsenault

"Do you want to gamble and miss the boat moving forward? It's an investment that is sizeable but obviously we need to create that employment before we can get that contribution," Arsenault said.

He expects OrganiGram will hire more than 300 new employees over the next few years, far more than the 113 it is receiving funding for.

Arsenault was born and raised in Moncton and intends to hire locally.

"For anybody who is working in our area or even people that are working in other parts of the country that would like to come home, the marijuana industry is one anyone can see is going to be very large."

Arsenault plans to hire horticulturalists, microbiologists, chemists and customer service representatives.

with files from Jacques Poitras and Information Morning Moncton

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