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Pedersen Says No Jobs Will Be Lost As A Result Of 21 Office Closures

This week, the province announced the closure of 21 rural Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development and MASC offices.
An additional nine rural offices will remain open for Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development employees but closed to the public. Seventeen rural and northern offices will continue to deliver a multitude of services.
Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen talked about the decision to streamline the department.
"Pre-COVID, we were averaging about one to two people per day physically coming in to these 21 offices. We even had some offices that were closed and we had some offices that were averaging two people per week. So there was definitely need for modernization here. All of these offices have been closed since March, in reference to the public health orders."
Pedersen says there will be no job losses as a result of the closures.
"There is no job losses in this. We are not reducing our staffing, in fact we're moving to hire some more people. On top of that, the people will continue to live in these communities where the offices are closing. People will continue to live in their community. They'll have a home office somewhere, other than the community that they're in perhaps, but they are not required to move. We want to make this as seamless as possible and support those communities that people are living in now."
Pedersen recognizes there will be cost savings from closing the offices, however he says the province plans to put more than that back into technology to enhance service.
An interactive online chat program, which will allow clients to access real-time assistance from a smartphone, tablet, computer or through a toll-free number, will be developed in the future. In addition, each office will have a client-accessible kiosk to access online services and connect virtually with other government service providers.
The changes will take effect April 1, 2021.
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