AAFC jobs hit as AgriStability offices move: report

Decisions in Saskatchewan and British Columbia to take over administration of their farmers’ AgriStability programs will affect federal ag employees in both Regina and Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported in its online edition Thursday that 440 employees in the Farm Income Programs Directorate (FIPD) and the Financial Controls and Reporting Division (FCRD) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada would be affected.

Citing an “information package” given to affected employees Wednesday, the Free Press said the transfer of AgriStability work to British Columbia is expected to begin in December, and to Saskatchewan the following month.

The newspaper said program delivery would be consolidated in Winnipeg and the Regina federal office would close by June 30 next year. The paper said “at least 360” Winnipeg workers would be affected.

Some employees will be offered term positions in either Saskatchewan or British Columbia, the Free Press said, quoting a federal government spokesperson as saying “every effort” would be made to help affected staff find work with other government departments or within AAFC.

Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec already deliver AgriStability, formerly known as CAIS, through their own provincial ag financial service agencies. AAFC administers the program in the remaining provinces.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced in the provincial throne speech in October 2008 that the province would take on AgriStability administration for Saskatchewan farmers.

“This will result in a better program — one that is more responsive to the unique needs and challenges facing Saskatchewan producers,” Wall wrote.

Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp., based at Melville, about 140 km northeast of Regina, will administer AgriStability for that province. The government said in November 2008 that the move would mean 110 new jobs at Melville and 30 at Crop Insurance offices in rural Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan’s transition to provincial delivery of AgriStability will start in 2010 with processing of applications for the 2009 program year, the province said at that time.

The B.C. government made its intent for AgriStability known as far back as February 2008 in the B.C. Agriculture Plan, its longer-term plan for the province’s ag sector.

The move, which at the time had been scheduled to take place sometime in 2008, was included as part of the province’s strategy to “ensure that programs intended to mitigate business risks will meet the needs of B.C.’s diverse agriculture sector.”

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