Nfld. & Labrador

Penashue denies interference in jobs decision

The federal cabinet minister for Newfoundland and Labrador says Service Canada workers in his riding will keep their jobs, and is batting aside allegations of political interference related to the decision.

Labrador MP says he simply passed on information that Service Canada office in his riding would remain open

The federal cabinet minister for Newfoundland and Labrador says Service Canada workers in his riding will keep their jobs, and is batting aside allegations of political interference related to the decision.

The centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was slated to close along with seven others in the province. The closure of the central Labrador office won't happen, Penashue confirmed Thursday.

But Penashue said the decision was made by the federal Human Resources department, and he just passed on the information.

"The response was that their positions will remain in Goose Bay, and that it didn't make sense to consolidate Goose Bay operations into Halifax or St. John's, and particularly when Labrador is on the mainland and it's a different region," Penashue said.

Penashue told reporters that he went to HRDC after getting calls from concerned constituents.

In the fall, Liberal MP Scott Simms had accused Penashue of political interference. Penashue declined to address the matter at that time, walking away from reporters in Ottawa.

There have been protests in other parts of the province trying to save the jobs of 70 to 80 other Service Canada workers who are set to get layoff notices.

Seeking help

The Public Service Alliance of Canada now wants Penashue to go to bat for them.

"How can one person make that commitment to (their) constituents, and not be able to make it somewhere else," PSAC's Margie Hancock said.

The looming federal budget is expected to contain deep spending cuts.

About a dozen people work at the Labrador Service Canada office. A spokesperson for Service Canada confirmed for CBC News that the Happy-Valley Goose Bay office will remain open.