I like ACOA and I, in fact, do work occasionally for the agency and find the people very professional. I hope I will continue to do work for the organization in the future.
But I think they are treating the CEDAs badly here. I am not going to go into a big debate about the merits of ACOA pulling funding. The Minister has bragged about the important role of the CBDCs and how the CEDAs were just getting between ACOA and its clients.
That’s one interpretation. I happen to believe that economic development must be grounded in the community and region – it’s the only way to truly get support and engagement from the local business community. The CBDCs are just another bank – maybe an important bank – but just another bank. They are not involved in sector development, in regional economic development strategy or in building the value proposition for investment. They are a bank.
But that’s not actually why I am disappointed with ACOA.
Apparently, the CEDAs have to run through a bunch of hoops to get their funding until May 2013.
When ACOA laid off its internal staff, did they have to lay out a full work plan until May 2013?
If the CEDAs are being phased out (and I don’t know that – the province may come to the table but it looks quite grim) – they need to have time to give their employees a proper transition. These employees don’t have government pensions, they aren’t getting big severance packages or early retirement.
The right thing to do would be to allow the CEDAs to use the funds until May 2013 to do the right thing by their clients (existing) and staff. I don’t know the logistics of this but at least six months’ severance per worker might be a good place to start.
Some of these CEDA workers have been there for 10 years or more.