The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said on Thursday it had received notice of hundreds of job cuts in Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
Retired agronomy research scientist Ross McKenzie called the move disappointing.
“It was a huge, huge surprise when Alberta Agriculture has done such a lot of great work over the last 40 to 50 years, with agriculture research and really developing technologies to help farmers,” McKenzie added.
Two locations in southern Alberta — the Lethbridge Research Centre, which is home to both the federal research department and the provincial; and the research centre in Brooks — are being impacted. McKenzie was with the Lethbridge location for 38 years, and said agriculture research won’t be the same after the latest cuts.
“The cuts are devastating,” said McKenzie. “More than half the staff at both locations will be cut. For example, in Brooks, only the weed researcher and the disease researcher will remain, and they’ve lost half their staff.”
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said it doesn’t have exact numbers for how many positions have been cut at the location in Brooks or the research centre in Lethbridge.
“We do know that overall, 247 jobs will be cut from agriculture and forestry. We know that 166 jobs are apart of the first cut or first wave,” said Bobby-Joe Borodey, vice president with AUPE.
McKenzie said included in those cuts are the staff that worked alongside three researchers that transitioned from the Alberta government to the University of Lethbridge, as announced last week by Devin Dreeshen, minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
“The real kicker is that the three researchers have been transferred, but all their staff — virtually all their staff — were terminated on Wednesday, so the researchers go but their staff don’t go,” added Mckenzie.
The Alberta government said the departments are following through on plans laid out in the last two budgets to make government more efficient.