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NAPE president slams CNA job losses as another Liberal hit for rural N.L.

Jerry Earle.
Jerry Earle.

The provincial government says changes at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) announced on Friday are about growth.

Advanced Education and Skills Minister Gerry Byrne had previously said there would be no widespread job losses at CNA — but it depends on how you view the Friday afternoon CNA statement.

CNA announced it will remove seven programs from its 2017-18 academic schedule, resulting in the layoff of 11 full-time faculty members. In addition, 34 contractual positions will not be renewed.

Programs and campuses affected are: welding at Baie Verte; industrial mechanic-millwright at Happy Valley-Goose Bay; health informatics (Distributed Learning); cook at Seal Cove; construction/industrial electrician at St. Anthony; and chemical process engineering technology-co-op at the Ridge Road campus in St. John’s.

Many of the people who will lose their jobs are members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE).

NAPE president Jerry Earle said that of the 11 permanent job losses, 10 are in rural Newfoundland.

“The job impact in those communities is the last thing that rural communities can absorb,” he said.

“If you look at St. Anthony alone, for example, three positions are from St. Anthony. There’s not a great chance you are going to lose your job in St. Anthony and gain re-employment. What a lot of people don’t look at is, while it’s three people, it’s likely three families that are going to leave St. Anthony, and the same for other communities.

“I would say 45 people losing their jobs is widespread layoffs. It’s across the entire province and we cannot in this economy continue to see people thrown out of work, whether it is a unionized position, non-union or management.”

The college said the decisions were the result of the Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) process that had taken place at the college.

CNA interim president and CEO Elizabeth Kidd said the SEM process was wide-ranging and included various college functional areas, but also looked at student demand, labour market demand and industry feedback.

“These decisions, while difficult, are based on the best evidence that we have to determine the potential demand for graduates, their potential for employment, and the skills and trades that employers are indicating they need,” Kidd said.

“As a college, our ability to respond to the demands of the labour market is key, and we want to ensure that our students have every opportunity for success upon graduation. These factors are at the very heart of the decision-making regarding what programs we offer in a given academic year.”

Earle said that when the Liberals took power they promised there would be no layoffs.

In this year’s provincial budget, Finance Minister Cathy Bennett had said there would be no “mass layoffs” — though she said government will constantly look for “efficiencies.”

Earle said government ministers have to stop using these “buzz words.”

“The bottom line is they need to be honest with the people, be honest with working men and women and tell them whether their jobs are safe,” he said.

“We said when the budget came down there were a lot of things hidden within this budget that people will learn slowly. The term we used, as well as others, was death by a thousand lashes, and that’s what is happening.

“There is barely a month that goes by we are not seeing somebody laid off as a result of government action. And it appears the only people being employed are former Liberal candidates or people who assisted with the election, the most recent one a six-figure salary in the Department of Health and Community Services.”

Earle was referring to the recent appointment of Jamie O’Dea as the new director of pharmaceutical services. O’Dea is a former Liberal party vice-president and was co-chair of the Liberals’ 2015 election campaign.

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