PICTOU – A county councillor says he is concerned about the number of businesses closing in his district.
Coun. Robert Parker said the Scotsburn area recently had a gas station close its doors as well as the Scotsburn feed mill and Stonehame Chalets.
“We have seen more and more people heading out west and up north than there has been for a long time,” he said, “simply because they can’t make a living here. A lot of businesses are going out of business. There has to be a reason here. It’s a tough time for businesses right now.”
He suggested that council start taking these job losses seriously before more businesses in rural areas shut their doors.
Parker said he has been hearing rumours about Scotsburn Dairy Group moving its head office from Scotsburn so he recently asked if this was true during a meeting of stakeholders.
“I was told that was a business decision that will be made like any other business decision,” he said. “I want to make a motion that we send a letter to the president of Scotsburn Dairy Group encouraging them to maintain head offices in Scotsburn and express our appreciation for the time they have been there and its employment of people in the area.”
Parker also asked that a second letter be sent to Central Nova MP Peter MacKay and Diane Finlay, the federal minister responsible for Employment Insurance, asking the federal government to consider the needs of seasonal workers when it comes to assessing EI claims.
As a seasonal business owner, Parker said he is concerned that stricter EI rules will force seasonal workers to find full-time employment elsewhere.
“Seasonal workers are probably going to be forced to take jobs out west and that will affect a lot of seasonal businesses in the county,” he said. “It robs people away who have been working in these seasonal businesses for many, many years.”
He suggested the federal government look at a separate Employment Insurance policy for seasonal workers, especially those in Atlantic Canada.
Council supported both of Parker’s letter requests.
“We do contribute to a huge number of workers that leave here on a regular basis,” said Coun. David Parker. “We want to encourage them to keep coming home, but the wages they are making out there are extremely difficult to compete with. The real problem is that the government has decided that one size fits all for the economy. This model doesn’t recognize there are regional disparities in economies. Our economy does work under the current system. We have a system that is working well here so, if it isn’t broke, why are fixing it?”