N.S. civil servants refuse to relocate
Deputy premier not concerned by workers unwilling to move
The head of the union representing Nova Scotia's civil servants says more employees affected by the province's decentralization plan are refusing to move.
Joan Jessome, the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, met with 35 employees on Thursday night who all said they are not willing to relocate.
"Many of them have partners that work and there's no program for their partners to relocate, so they're not prepared to lose another income," she told CBC News.
"They have no intention of following the jobs but they have a real serious concern about the impact on the industry."
The union has held several meetings with its members since the provincial government announced last month that it was moving dozens of civil service jobs out of populated centres as it attempts to decentralize some departments.
The Department of Agriculture head office is moving to Truro-Bible Hill — which means the relocation of 34 positions — and 25 maintenance enforcement jobs with the Department of Justice are moving to New Waterford.
In the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 22 fisheries jobs are heading to the Digby-Clementsport area while 12 aquaculture positions are going to Shelburne County.
Jessome said the decentralization is weighing heavily on workers' minds, especially those who work in the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Employees to decide by June 20
"The impact of what this is going to do to a billion-dollar industry — this is a fishing industry that we're well known and well respected for in this world," she said.
"We have the experts that deal with this industry on a day-to-day basis saying they're not following their jobs. That should be sending alarm bells off across the province and throughout government."
Meanwhile, deputy premier Frank Corbett — who is responsible for the province's Public Service Commission — said he doesn't believe the Nova Scotia government has a problem brewing with civil servants who don't want to move to keep their jobs.
Corbett said the government hopes that as many employees as possible will decide to relocate, but jobs will be found in other government departments for those who don't.
Corbett, who is the MLA for Cape Breton Centre, said his riding needs the relocation of the 25 maintenance enforcement jobs with the Department of Justice.
"There's probably no place in this province that has been devastated by the closure of heavy industry like my riding," he told reporters on Friday.
"I think it's one way of our government saying, 'Here we are. We have belief in towns like New Waterford and Dominion and Reserve and in Scotchtown. We believe in you and we want you to grow again.'"
Corbett said the government would have to hire or find workers from other departments to fill the vacancies created if large numbers of workers don't want to move.
Employees have until June 20 to decide if they want to relocate or try to find another government position.
New Waterford makes pitch
Meanwhile, a councillor in New Waterford is urging the government workers to give the move some serious consideration.
Kim Desveaux is hopeful that some of the people affected by the relocation will move to the Cape Breton community. She believes if the workers took a closer look, they would see that New Waterford has all the amenities they need including great schools, a hospital and activities.
"I don't think it's about one community against another, it's about change and uprooting lives, and that's unfortunate," she said. "But they're welcome, they're welcome in our community."
Desveaux said the community is in desperate need of more employment, and she hopes the province will move even more jobs to the area.
With files from The Canadian Press