The province is cutting 247 jobs at Agriculture and Forestry, according to a letter sent to — and then publicly released by — the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.
The letter provides some specifics of the “phased workforce transformation,” but also notes that its plans haven’t been completely finalized. It also says cuts will be done through attrition “whenever possible.”
The agriculture side will account for 190 of the job losses, with 135 of those positions in the Primary Agriculture division. This includes programs dealing with plant and bee health surveillance, agriculture service boards, and crop assurance extension (including farm safety).
But it’s likely most will come from the research side.
The letter specifically mentions dairy research and extension, cropping systems, greenhouse service agreements, CAP (Canadian Agricultural Partnership) science and research, innovation agriculture grants, apiculture research, strategic research and development, and applied research in value-added meats.
It also says there will be a “realignment of priorities” in the Environmental and Farm Stewardship and Irrigation and Farm Water branches.
Other jobs and services seem destined to be hived off in some fashion.
“The Food Science and Technology Centre in Brooks, the Food Processing Development Centre in Leduc, and agri-food laboratories for food microbiology, parasitology and support services will be reduced or eliminated although the large majority of positions in the laboratories will remain,” the letter states.
The revamping of 4-H will see the elimination of 10 jobs. Earlier this year, a single organization (4-H Alberta) was created to take over the work previously done by three groups (4-H Council of Alberta, the 4-H Foundation of Alberta, and the 4-H section of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry).
“Administrative and procedural efficiencies” will see two dozen jobs eliminated in the ministry.
The government’s notice of impending job losses also provides details on its plans to use sheriffs as well as fish and wildlife enforcement officers in policing roles in rural Alberta.
The “first phase” will see 119 fish and wildlife enforcement officers responding to “priority 911 calls in rural Alberta.” Next spring, a second phase will see 109 traffic sheriffs and 127 officers from the Traffic and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division respond to “traffic incidents” on highways.
Sheriffs are sworn peace officers and those in the traffic division have long worked with the RCMP in enforcing traffic laws on highways. Among other duties, vehicle enforcement officers perform safety inspections of commercial vehicles and their drivers.