Projects by local reserve unit, CEF, in jeopardy as funding shrinks

Published on March 19, 2014

PICTOU – A group that provides expertise and work for community projects in the area is feeling threatened by a funding pinch.

The 144 Construction Engineer Flight in Pictou is looking for support from the municipalities in Pictou County to help send a message to the federal government about the importance of their work.

Lawrence LeBlanc, chair of the community advisory board for the group, said they’ve had some major cuts recently.

“The military is being cut right across Canada,” LeBlanc said. “We’re a small outfit so that affects us here.”

He said they’ve already had recent cuts and are expecting another 25 per cent cut. That’s brought their numbers down to about 40 people and those who are there are getting far fewer hours of work than they used to.

In the past, members have gotten as many as four or five days a week of work, but now many are only getting 12 days a month.

A bit of that is to be expected in the usual ebb and flow of funding and it by no means an end to the squadron, LeBlanc said, but it will have an impact on the work they’re able to do.

The CEF has a long history of supporting projects in Pictou County. One of the major projects they did recently, for example, was the roof of the Stellarton Memorial Rink.

He said they’ve also trained many people who went on to work on projects in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

LeBlanc said MP Peter MacKay has always been a strong supporter of the group particularly when he served as defence minister, but he’s encouraging people to talk to whoever they can to help voice how much their work is needed.

The message they want to send is clear: “No more cuts.”

The Municipality of Pictou County has put its support behind the flight.

Warden Ron Baillie said the CEF has expressed concern that if it does experience any more cuts, it may not be able to maintain its current level of service. 

Coun. David Parker said the reserve unit is a "vital" and "valuable asset" to the county.