Discussion of the government debacle that led to the November closure of a Cape Breton employment agency moved Tuesday to a second legislative committee in a week.
“Some of the main components to attracting and retaining people in rural areas are of course job opportunities and supports,” Kendra Coombes, NDP MP for Cape Breton Center Whitney Pier, told the Standing Committee on Resources on Tuesday. human.
Coombes said the Island Employment agency previously employed 30 people in Cape Breton who are now unemployed. The province terminated its agreement with Island Employment due to allegations of embezzlement by management and the agency closed Nov. 21.
The department recently replaced the agency, which closed offices in six Cape Breton communities, with two new service providers.
Coombes wanted to know why, according to former employees, the new vendors only posted for 22 positions and did not post for any of the 11 old specialist positions.
The MP asked why the job offers disqualified some of the former employees.
“The number of positions we funded through our agreement with Island was 23 positions,” said Nancy Hoddinott, senior director general of skills and learning at the provincial Department of Labour, Skills and Employment. Immigration.
“We made sure that the positions we negotiated under new contracts with suppliers were the same number of positions.”
Hoddinott said the department wanted to ensure it invested the same amount of funding and supported the same number of career practitioners in Cape Breton as under the island’s employment contract.
Island Employment was one of 16 independent provincial service providers contracted by the Department of Labor under the Nova Scotia Works umbrella to provide employment services across the province, such as improving the job skills of individuals and connecting them with employers.
Hoddinott said it was up to the 16 providers to decide what roles, titles and positions they wanted “to include in their mix or if they wanted to have more generalized positions.”
“At the end of the day, we really wanted to allow these employers (the YMCA and the Economic Development Council of Nova Scotia (CDENE), these two new organizations to make the decisions about the specific positions they were recruiting for and the positions who they would need now.
Hoddinott said the new providers should achieve the results required by employers and workers seeking the services.
Coombes said the 30 former employees “were very punished” through no fault of their own for speaking out about the alleged embezzlement.
“They are further punished for not being able to advance to these positions,” Coombes said, noting that five of the recently posted jobs were located in Sydney, while there was previously a 16-person office in Sydney.
Coombes said some of Sydney’s 16 former posts have been moved to other parts of Cape Breton, apparently in ridings held by the Progressive Conservatives.
“In terms of role locations, again we have two new service providers, rural areas are very important, they need to determine career practitioner role locations in areas they feel are there. has a need and where the services are needed most critically right now,” Hoddinott said.
Immediately after Island Employment closed, Hoddinott said the YMCA, then as an interim service provider, posted 14 term positions and the YMCA is now considering whether or not those positions should become permanent.
“It’s up to the organization (YMCA) to determine if that’s the path they’re going to go down.”
A vote at a public accounts committee meeting last week on an NDP motion asking the province’s auditor general, Kim Adair, to investigate the operation of Island Employment was defeated, but the committee chair , Nolan Young, said the vote was taken by mistake. A further vote on the motion will likely take place at a later meeting.
Ava Czapalay, Deputy Minister of the Department of Labour, opened the meeting aimed at attracting and retaining people in rural areas by sharing the story of her grandparents who immigrated to Nova Scotia 100 years ago l last summer, answering a call for Nova Scotia coal miners and hope for a better life.
Czapalay said his paternal grandfather moved his family from Hungary to Springhill in 1921.
Czapalay said she grew up in Barrington Passage and appreciates the value of a rural Nova Scotia lifestyle.
“Many newcomers choose to start their lives in rural Nova Scotia,” she said. “Initially, they come for work, but what will retain in these communities will be new friends, welcoming and safe places and access to services and activities.”
Czapalay said Nova Scotia had a population of one million in December, with a goal of reaching a population of two million within 40 years.
“Our strategy is based on increasing immigration and immigration (from other provinces) and keeping more people here in Nova Scotia,” she said, adding that the province wants to increase the number of immigrants landed in the province to 21,000 per year.
Settlement providers like the YMCA and ISANS (Immigration Services Association) play a key role in preparing partners and family members of immigrants to succeed in the province.
“We will work with employers to ensure they can access the workers they need through immigration,” to address labor shortages, Czapalay said.
She said the department is focused on increasing youth participation in skilled trades and apprenticeships, particularly in rural areas, with the goal of retaining youth in the province and increasing diversity and inclusion.
Czapalay said the 16 job providers play a crucial role, providing in-person and online employment and career services in more than 50 communities across Nova Scotia.
“In 2021, through the services of Nova Scotia Work, we supported over 1,500 employers and 6,000 new job seekers,” she said.
But workers need places to live and Ronnie LeBlanc, the Liberal MP for Claire, wanted to know what the Department of Labor was doing to match employees with housing.
“It’s absolutely true that to attract and retain people in Nova Scotia communities, we need to provide services like housing to newcomers,” Czapalay said. “We must continue to work with our many partners, both within government and across the province, to help solve the housing problem.
She said a marketing campaign to attract skilled tradespeople to the province will attract “job-ready” people with the skills to help build the province’s housing stock.