Billed as a bid to “modernize” service delivery for rural Manitobans, Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen has announced plans to close over 20 government offices and combine others, leaving a total of 17 offices between agriculture and resource development.
Effective April 1, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development and Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) offices will be combined to offer a single window for Manitoba farmers and businesses seeking services provided by either organization, the province says.
Manitoba Agriculture will maintain 10 ag service centres at Arborg, Brandon, Dauphin, Headingley, Killarney, Morden, Neepawa, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, and Swan River.
The province says these 10 locations will continue to provide Manitoba producers with products and services offered by MASC, be an access point for permits and licenses issued by the department, and deliver department and general government services program information and referrals.
Seven other locations will be dedicated to resource management and the oil and petroleum sectors.
Manitoba Ag and MASC offices will be closing in the following locations, as of April 1:
- Altona, Ashern, Birtle, Deloraine, Fisher Branch, Gladstone, Glenboro, Grandview, Hamiota, Lundar, Morris, Pilot Mound, Russell, Shoal Lake, Somerset, Souris, St. Pierre-Jolys, Ste. Rose du Lac, Teulon, Vita and Waskada.
While it was known the province was conducting a review of its agriculture delivery model, department staff were first informed of the closures in a webinar with the minister on Wednesday.
Sources say staff at the offices being closed have been told to attend a virtual meeting on Thursday to learn what’s happening with their positions.
A senior source in the department says there will be no job losses, and that staff will not have to move out of their communities.
Many have been working from home due to COVID-19 protocols, so it’s possible that will continue post-pandemic.
The province has not said how much money it expects to save as a result of the changes.
More info is expected on Thursday as Minister Pedersen is slated to speak with reporters about the “new service delivery” on Thursday morning.
Last updated January 6, 8pm CST