By JENNIFER HAMILTON-McCHARLES The Nugget
Posted 14 hours ago
Service Canada in North Bay is preparing to expand its workforce.
Human Resources Development Canada will close 100 offices across Canada over the next three years. The remaining 20 offices, including North Bay, will expand to become Employment Insurance processing centres.
Scott Mannering, constituency manager at Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Jay Aspin's office, said the city will see a significant number of jobs added to the local office because of this consolidation.
He said he couldn't give an exact number, but estimated it could mean 50 jobs.
"It's a good kick for us," Mannering said Monday.
He said job vacancies will be offered first to those employees working in offices slated for closure and are willing to relocate.
The North Bay office will handle employment insurance inquires from people living across Northeastern and Eastern Ontario from Timmins to Kingston.
Service Canada will remain at its Shirreff Avenue location for now, Mannering said.
"We probably have space for another 20 people in the existing facility," he said. "But long-term we will have to take another look."
The official announcement was made last summer.
Valerie Fargey, national vice-president for the Ontario Region of Canada Employment and Immigration Union, said the 20 processing centres will need additional property to handle the added work.
"The backlog is already so huge," she said, adding claims are supposed to be processed in three weeks, but people looking for work are waiting as long as five to eight weeks.
Fargey said she fears there will be a ripple effect.
"I just hope those communities don't lose their front-end services at Service Canada."
The Sturgeon Falls office was among the first to fall on the chopping block. Its doors closed Jan. 1.
Employees were offered employment at the North Bay office, while the district will be served by a mobile office two days a week.
The union was told the move is a result of a lack of rental space in the community. The lease on the property at 186 Main St. ran out and there wasn't suitable space available.