Nova Scotia

Businesses recruit NewPage workers

Though there haven't been any layoffs yet, potential employers are already looking to recruit workers from the NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd and they're already receiving calls from the Port Hawkesbury mill workers.

Though there haven't been any layoffs yet, potential employers are already looking to recruit workers from the NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd. mill.

Hundreds of people will be out of work when the mill shuts down indefinitely next month.

The warden of Richmond County said he worries about an exodus of people, if the shutdown at NewPage is a lengthy one.

"Oh there's no question, Fort McMurray flights would be bought hand over fist," said John Boudreau.

James MacFadyen has worked at NewPage for 15 years. While he hopes the mill will start up again, he said he may have to go looking for work, at least in the short term.

"If I have to take off for a month or two months, whatever it takes to keep things going definitely, it would be a last resort, but it could quite possibly happen," said MacFadyen.

MacFadyen said he will sit tight until more is known about the length of the shutdown.

He said some more recent hires at the mill may consider leaving Nova Scotia for work.

"Those people are quite willing to gobble up something full time away from here and that would be a really … bad thing because our schools — already the enrolment is declining," said MacFadyen.

"The people who would be willing to move away are those with small kids and that stuff that builds the community."

The Strait area's radio station began playing ads Thursday from companies looking for workers with experience in paper-making and heavy equipment operation.

Companies will hire

At least two companies are expressing an interest in NewPage workers.

An Alberta company, Lydell Group Inc. in Drayton Valley, Alta., has posted ads looking for truck drivers to haul logs and operators for bulldozers and logging equipment.

It has about 15 job openings.

An official with the company said they've received at least 10 calls from the Port Hawkesbury area in the last two days.

J.D. Irving in New Brunswick is holding an open house in Port Hawkesbury next week. It's looking for more than 20 people for its pulp and paper operations in Saint John.

Mary Keith, the spokeswoman for Irving, said the company has been advertising the positions for several weeks.

"We certainly hope there is a resolution to the situation in Port Hawkesbury, but we've received some calls from people and we're looking to have an open house to make people aware of the positions that are available for people here in Atlantic Canada," she said.

The official with Lydell Group Inc. said employers in Alberta are scrambling to find workers and he expects more companies will recruit in the Strait area in the next few weeks.