PEI

On final day at work, staff at P.E.I.'s last printing press offered jobs

It's been a roller-coaster of emotions at Transcontinental, P.E.I.'s last large commercial printing press — Wednesday, staff watched the last copies of Atlantic Post Calls roll off the press, then Thursday, a phone call offering all 11 employees jobs.

'There wasn't a dry eye in the house'

'Sad day folks, just printed our last job at the Transcontinental plant in Borden-Carleton,' posted plant manager Bruce MacDougall Wednesday on Facebook. (Submitted by Bruce MacDougall)

It's been a roller-coaster of emotions at TC Transcontinental, P.E.I.'s last large commercial printing press — Wednesday, staff watched the final copies of Atlantic Post Calls roll off the press, then Thursday, a phone call offered all 11 employees jobs.

The printer opened in March 2003 and since then has printed many Maritime publications including The Guardian and The Journal-Pioneer newspapers, entertainment monthly The Buzz and monthly food digest Salty. The company announced in November the plant would close

"I can tell you when the lead press-man shut the job off, there wasn't a dry eye in the house," said printing plant manager Bruce MacDougall. "It was the end of an era for us ... a sad day. 

"It's unfortunate, it really sucks."

Last-minute phone call

MacDougall himself called around to local businesses to try to find work for the 11 people at the plant who were losing their jobs, and his efforts seem to have paid off. 

After they'd all shared one last lunch together Thursday, MacDougall received a phone call offering all 11 jobs at a P.E.I. facility. 

It's the end of an era on P.E.I.— Paul MacNeill, publisher

Publications that relied on the plant have found new printers, MacDougall said, at Transcontinental's Montreal plant or closer to home, at printers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 

Paul MacNeill, the publisher of Island Press, praised Transcontinental as "exceptional to deal with." 

"It's the end of an era on P.E.I.," he said. "We've always had a press on P.E.I. ... now there are none." His newspapers, which include The Eastern Graphic, will now be printed in Pictou, N.S. 

10 full-time employees were laid off June 5, 2018 at the Transcontinental printing facility in Borden-Carleton. (Google Street View)

The switch will mean the papers will look different. 

"We're going to an extended tab, which is smaller than the current broadsheet, but it allows us to have more pages, more colour opportunity for advertisers," MacNeill said.

"And so we see it as a real opportunity to actually enhance the product."

He said the change means a slightly earlier deadline for staff but the paper will arrive on the same day for readers. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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