Gov Chops Tree Nursery Jobs
From the Pineland Forest Nursery website, located in Hadashville, Manitoba
May 04, 2018
The provincial government announced on Thursday that it would be selling Pineland Forest Nursery near Hadashville – a massive tree-growing operation that produces and stores seeds for every type of tree grown in Manitoba and serves as a vital contributor to environmental sustainability.
“Selling our reforestation nursery is yet another example of this government putting local economies at risk by privatizing public services,” said MGEU President, Michelle Gawronsky.
The government has issued a Request for Proposals for a private buyer and says operations will end by December 31, 2018.
The closure will eliminate eight full-time and 17 part-time jobs, plus seasonal employment.
Although the government has indicated that permanent staff will be relocated to other jobs, this closure is yet another economic hit to a smalltown Manitoba economy.
“It’s a terrible shame that the Premier would put a valuable, cutting edge environmental public asset on the chopping block like this. He should act like a steward of our public assets and forests, not an auctioneer. All Manitobans benefit from this public asset, now it’s just private shareholders who will benefit,” Gawronsky said.
“The Minister’s news release reads like a flyer liquidation sale advertisement, touting what a great opportunity this incredible asset and strong local workforce are, while declaring ‘everything must go’ by New Year’s. He even dangles the prospect of turning our reforestation nursery into a marijuana grow-up. You can’t make this stuff up,” she said.
Consisting of 67 greenhouses on seven acres, Pineland also features eco-friendly equipment including a biomass boiler that is part of a Manitoba Hydro demonstration project. Pineland has been operating in Hadashville since 1953 and was originally established to produce seedlings for the Province of Manitoba but grew over time to produce them for customers outside the province as well. This year about 525,000 seedlings are being grown for out-of-province contracts – many of which go well into 2019 – beyond the December 31, 2018 closure date.
“This will be a bad deal for taxpayers. Manitoba will now have to buy seedlings at market rates to pay for shareholder profits. And by broadcasting a hard deadline within months to close shop, they’ve all but guaranteed Manitobans won’t receive a fair selling price for the nursery,” Gawronsky said.
If indeed the government follows through with its commitment to undertake an economic and environmental assessment, it is hoped that they will reconsider this decision. A wiser move would be to redouble efforts to manage Manitoba reforestation in-house and – by doing so – make a positive contribution to environmental and climate-change efforts.
Yesterday’s news also came as a complete
surprise to the University of Winnipeg’s forestry and climate change
researchers that operate at the Nursery. As the provincial keeper of all seeds,
it’s estimated that Pineland produces about 10 million trees annually.