Nfld. & Labrador

'Shameful' for women, bad for region say budget protesters in Twillingate

People in Twillingate fear the closure of an employment office will make it harder for people in the region to find jobs.

Anger at closure of advanced education and skills office

Protesters listen during a NAPE protest in Twilingate against the N.L. budget. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Protesters in Twillingate have been told the provincial budget is "shameful" for its treatment of women, and bad for the entire region.

The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, Jerry Earle, spoke at a rally Thursday outside the employment centre in Twillingate.

The centre is one of eight Department of Advanced Education and Skills offices closed across Newfoundland and Labrador because of budget cuts. 

"I heard Minister Bennett say that they looked at this from a gender lens, too," said Earle. "Well let me tell Minster Bennett. It is primarily women that have been adversely affected by these closures." 

Earle said it is mostly women working in the employment centres, "and that is absolutely shameful."

Protesters say the employment centre will be needed if the local shrimp plant gears down, or if Fort McMurray workers return home. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Twillingate 'nerve centre'

Twillingate Mayor Gordon Noseworthy said the closure of the employment centre will have a devastating impact on the region and comes at a bad time.

"There's a large number of people that use this service here and it's going to grow and get bigger," said Noseworthy. 

Right now the fish plant in town processes shrimp. Noseworthy has a close eye on shrimp quotas and believes cuts could impact the plant. 

"We got a plant that's hanging. We don't know what's going to happen to it but if it happens to close this is going to be flooded, if it was still left here."

Twillingate Mayor Gordon Noseworthy addresses the protest in Twillingate. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Noseworthy also said there's a number of people from the New World Island region who work in Fort McMurray, and are now displaced because of wildfires.

He thinks they'll be coming back to Newfoundland looking for work and will be lost without the employment centre. 

"The government right now, to me, is picking on rural Newfoundland," said Noseworthy. 

Loss of local service

People at the rally say community members who use the employment centre will be forced to travel more than 90 kilometres to Lewisporte for face-to-face service. 

"It's a tragic loss for the people of the area. It's totally devastating," said Thelma Stuckey who works as a support employment councilor with the Gambo and Area Employment Corporation. 

Thelma Stuckey works with the Gambo and Area Employment Incorporation and works out of the closed employment centre. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Stuckey is from Twillingate and says losing the only government office in the region will have a big impact on the seniors who come in to the office with general questions.

"We know those seniors. So they can get here and be in a relaxed state and say 'Oh my, I don't know what I'm going to do,'" said Stuckey. 

"But if they got to talk to a person now on the phone, I mean, that's very uncomfortable for them. It brings on anxiety."

Budget documents show that closing the eight advanced education and skills centres will save about $330,000 this fiscal year, and $450,000 every year after.