NDP questions move of DFO services into minister's riding
Plan would see six financial support offices across Canada merged to New Brunswick
The Opposition is questioning why the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans plans to close six financial support offices across the country and consolidate their work in Fredericton, N.B., in the riding of Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield.
NDP fisheries critic Robert Chisholm said he wants to know why the federal government is moving the jobs at a time when the department has already been thrown into "an incredible upheaval" with budget cuts.
"Bringing it together in an area like Fredericton makes me curious, and I'm going to be interested to hear how the minister is going to be able to explain it," Chisholm said in an interview Wednesday.
"At least Keith Ashfield, MP, is not going to suffer because he's going to be creating jobs in his community."
The department said the move will occur over the next three years, but would not say where the affected offices are located.
Erin Filliter, a spokeswoman for Ashfield, said he was not available for comment.
In an email, she said merging the six offices and some financial services from Ottawa would save about $2 million, though she declined to say how many jobs would be affected.
"We are still evaluating the impact across Canada and are not in a position to discuss changes in specific regions," she said.
She said the decision to locate the new office in Fredericton is based on a recommendation from the department.
"As part of our commitment to reducing government spending, we feel that this is a great example of eliminating duplication and streamlining back-offices services into one location, rather than six."
But Chisholm said he does not understand how the Conservative government can say it will save $2 million with the changes.
"When you take into consideration relocation costs, and consider the lack of contact a service might have with the local community that it has been in for years, it is very difficult to prove there are any savings whatsoever," Chisholm said.
The employees perform a variety of financial services such as procurement, purchase orders and paying the department's bills.
The consolidation comes as the department braces for a $79.3 million operational budget cut over the next three years.