Lab testing for water, milk, fish consolidated by province

Provincial government laboratories for testing water, milk quality and fish health are being consolidated.

Research and Productivity Council to take on responsibility for testing under bill introduced in legislature

Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Rick Doucet expects the consolidation of laboratory testing for water, fish health and milk quality under the Research and Productivity Council to improve service and reduce delays. (CBC)

Provincial government laboratories for testing of water, milk quality and fish health are being consolidated.

Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet tabled a bill in the legislature Thursday that will move the testing to the Research and Productivity Council, which is a provincial Crown corporation based in Fredericton.

"It was about finding some efficiencies and cost savings," said Doucet, noting that the consolidation of testing services came out of the government's strategic program review prior to the 2016-17 budget.

Doucet said there "could be some" jobs affected in the provincial laboratories.

"[From] what I understand, there's been a lot of work going on with the staff," he said. "There's some staff that have transferred over.

"But at the end of the day, I believe it's going to be pretty close."

Chance to apply for jobs

The consolidation affected 23 employees in the government labs, and all were given the opportunity to fill the 11 positions required by the council.

The affected employees were also given help to find alternative employment within the provincial government. Those who have not found alternative employment were placed on the redeployment list. They were also given the opportunity to accept a severance payment or layoff allowance.

Doucet believes the consolidation of testing services will improve the quality of service and reduce delays.

Doucet did not state how much money the measure is expected to save government.

With files from Jacques Poitras