CGI Group – whither thou goest?

Remember this name well, CGI Group. This firm invested heavily in New Brunswick. Set up their ‘G-Lab’ research laboratory in Fredericton. Has considerable employment in Saint John. It is top notch IT company with 25,000 global employees.

A few weeks ago, somebody told me that their days in New Brunswick are numbered. I heard rumours of this again.

And they are starting to make sense. Why else would CGI bypass New Brunswick all together in their recent announcement of new jobs in PEI and Nova Scotia? Now they are hiring 500 more in the United States and ramping up India.

Nada in New Brunswick.

Will somebody please ask the government if they are making any effort to keep one of New Brunswick’s top employers here? Maybe a question on why they are expanding in PEI and NS but not here? Maybe a question on why they are expanding in the US but not here? Maybe a question on why they are expanding in India but not here?

This is exactly why Mike Macbride, former Director of Trade & Investment with the former NB Department of Economic Development and Tourism expressed his frustration with the current government’s approach to economic development this week in the Daily Gleaner and on the CBC morning show.

I received a transcript of his CBC appearance. Macbride starts out by meticulously listing what the economic benefits would have been if New Brunswick had attracted Research in Motion’s 1,200 jobs (you know, the jobs former BNB Minister Peter Mesheau didn’t want because the project was too ‘big’ for New Brunswick). Taxes, payroll, investment. All good stuff. Not a word about how this new investment would have led to more Equalization.

But I digress.

Macbride intones:

They [McKenna, et. al.] were proactive and passionate towards economic development and it was the number one priority because they believed that through job creation and wealth generation, that was the path to becoming a have province as opposed to a have not province. That was there philosophical outlet on economic development.

Geez, Mike. Get a blog why don’t ya?

He continues:

I think, first of all, the province has to believe that this is the way to self sufficiency, that
economic development and job creation is the way to go and the focus then has to shift. To me that should be probably the top one or two priorities. And it has to be, the leadership has to come from the top. Of course, the leadership can’t come from the middle or the bottom. It has to come from the top. But you have to believe that that is the way to go as opposed to looking for more moneys from Ottawa.


Obviously, we need the support from Ottawa while we are in the have-not position, but I think if we’re going to go forward, we’ve got to, we’ve got to take more initiative. We’ve got to understand what’s happening. And what – of course in New Brunswick, what you have to worry about is not just what’s happening in New Brunswick, but almost more importantly what is not happening and what is not happening.

I fear we are not getting the leads. We are not putting competitive packages together because we’re not aware of expansions and relocations and the business is so competitive that unless everybody’s pulling together from the top down, I think we’re just not going to, we’re going to continue not to get the kind of business that we’d really like to see in New Brunswick.

Now let me wrap this up for you.

Macbride believes that the province is not doing a good job of attracting new companies to the province.

I go one step further. I don’t think they are doing a good enough job of retaining and growing the firms we have here.

Consider CGI. If they leave or downsize in New Brunswick while expanding everywhere else – that will be a shame.

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0 Responses to CGI Group – whither thou goest?

  1. Trevor says:

    I have not heard of downsizing rumours, but like anything it may be a possibility. Those that I know who work at CGI in Freddy and Halifax say that they are busier than ever. Take it for what you will.

    The problem that many IT companies are facing in our region right now on the economic growth side is a lack of skilled IT workers in our region. Many IT jobs in this province go unfilled because we don’t have the skillsets in our area and students are still led to beleive it’s too volatile of a career option.

    It would be a shame if CGI left, but they do so much work for the province of NB/SNB that I would doubt that they fold up completely.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the above -sort of- the reality is that in most cases I’ve seen, IT is rapidly becoming the ‘mining’ industry of the 21st century. Contrary to popular belief, it is not particularly exciting, and the high wages that used to accompany the jobs have plummetted. They are certainly far better retail, but as somebody who has worked both, I can tell you if the wages were even remotely similar I’d take retail any day of the week.

    Most of my friends and family who work in IT absolutely despise their jobs and would love to get out of it if they could. The main reason is management, which simply refuses to hire enough people for the jobs-primarily because they go contract to contract. With zero job security it’s no surprise people aren’t lining up to get into it.

  3. David Campbell says:

    If CGI stays here just to do ‘government’ work, then that’s a problem. There is limited economic development value from having a company do work for the government here (except of course for import substitution). My understanding was the CGI was developing and exporting services from here – maybe not.

    But you are right, they certainly won’t pull up and leave government work on the table – this would be unlikely. But the new jobs going into Halifax and Charlottetown are not local work.

  4. Trevor says:

    Anonymous,

    IT is not for everyone. Your connection to ‘mining’ is similar, except IT(knowledge industry) is a renewable ressource unlike coal.

    David,

    You are right that a loss of CGI would be bad because they do expose NB talent to new and old technologies that can then be transfered to other organizations or startups. I am however, hoping you are wrong.

  5. David Campbell says:

    I hope I am wrong as well….