Lack of funding forces closure of Pictou County Injured Workers Association
NEW GLASGOW, NS – Pictou County’s Progressive Conservative MLAs are calling on the Liberal government to restore funding to the Pictou County Injured Workers Association.
At a meeting on May 30, association president Mary Lloyd informed Premier McNeil and Minister Regan that the association’s receptionist would be laid off and the office in New Glasgow would be closing. However, the proposed agreement provided to the association has no increase in funding and no monies until July 1.
As a result, the association announced on Monday that they were forced to close due to a recent reduction in funding and no funding agreement with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
“Despite a growing caseload and increasing costs, the funding had remained the same the past few years,” says Lloyd. “It’s not enough. We don’t have enough funding to keep the office open and we’ve been left scrambling to see what further funding may be available after July 1. Obviously, the premier and Minister do not care.”
The inaction of the Liberals is a far cry from what they demanded for the Pictou County Injured Workers Association while in opposition.
On Nov. 28, 2012 during question period, Liberal MLA Keith Colwell asked the NDP government, “Why doesn’t this government increase funding for the Pictou County Workers Association so they can continue to serve their injured workers?”
“When the Liberals were in opposition, they championed our cause,” says Lloyd. “But while in government, they kept our funding at the same level, even though it’s not enough to pay the bills.”
Lloyd says it’s unfair to ask one staff member and a volunteer to manage the association’s 637 active files.
“The Pictou County Injured Workers Association has been a mainstay in the county, assisting and advising injured workers and their loved ones for decades,” says Pictou East MLA Tim Houston. “This government needs to step up and fund the good work that’s being done in Pictou County by this association.”
Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn is disappointed that when the association desperately needs their help, the government has remained silent.
“They defended them in opposition and have abandoned them while in government,” says Dunn. “It’s not right.”
The Pictou County association is one of two injured workers associations closed under the McNeil Liberals. The Cape Breton Injured Workers Association was shuttered in April 2015 due to a lack of funding.
“The Liberal government’s track record on injured workers associations has been dismal,” says Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane. “Workers rely on the kind of support and advice offered by these associations and they’ve closed under this government. It’s unacceptable.”