PEI

P.E.I. aerospace job losses 'unfortunate' concedes government

Job losses on P.E.I. were a hot topic of discussion Tuesday during question period in the legislature, with the Opposition focusing on a handful of aerospace jobs in Summerside's Slemon Park.

'You're going to have successes and you're going to have failures' says Economic Development minister

Employee Reggie Caseley was one of the last dozen or so employees left at Testori earlier this year. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Job losses on P.E.I. were a hot topic of discussion Tuesday during question period in the provincial legislature, with the Opposition focusing on a handful of aerospace jobs in Summerside's Slemon Park.

Summerside-based Testori Americas, together with its local sister company Weibel Aerospace, once employed a combined 200 people. Weibel Aerospace shut down last year and as of January 2016, Testori was down to just 15 employees.

The Testori property has now been listed for mortgage sale on May 5.

"Does the minister think his government did a good job protecting those jobs in rural Prince Edward Island, now that we're down another $8 million and 200 highly-skilled workers?" asked Matthew MacKay, the Opposition critic for economic development and MLA for district 20, Kensington-Malpeque. 

Troubled history 

In 2013, Testori was millions of dollars in debt to the P.E.I. government.

Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald says government will try to help Testori and Weibel employees find jobs in P.E.I.'s aerospace industry. (CBC)

The province then sold its $13.2 million loan to PEI Westside Funding for just $5 million, taking an $8 million loss.

After that, Testori went into creditor protection. 

"The government is committed to helping the workforce of these two companies when they close," said Heath MacDonald, the Island's minister of Economic Development and Tourism. 

MacDonald said government will try to help the employees find jobs in P.E.I.'s aerospace industry, saying it is "alive and well." 

"There's going to be risk in business," MacDonald answered. "The economic climates change around the world ... you're going to have successes and you're going to have failures and it's unfortunate especially for the employees that were working for these companies."

Opposition MLA Sidney MacEwen said mounting job losses are robbing P.E.I. of its chance to achieve a goal laid out in this year's throne speech: to try to entice Islanders to return back home from out West.

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