The mayor of Saint-Pierre is unhappy with the government’s plan to withdraw certain agricultural services from his community.
Last month, the province said it would downsize the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation by cutting departments in 21 communities. According to Raymond Maynard, Saint-Pierre has one of the only two bilingual centers in the province and both should close by April 1. The other is in Somerset, west of Carman.
The Saint-Pierre office has been helping farmers with crop insurance, pesticide advice and grant applications since 1931 and Maynard says losing this service would really hurt his village.
“Obviously that means there is going to be a loss of jobs and a loss of services for our local farmers. It’s bad ! Especially closing the only bilingual offices around, that’s not a good thing.
With the local center closing, Maynard says farmers who need these resources will have to go as far as Steinbach or Winnipeg; a precious time commitment of hours rather than mere minutes.
“It’s bad for the village,” he says. “It’s an office that gets lost, it’s a job that gets lost, it’s a service that gets lost. If we keep losing services like this, we’ll just become another dorm community with no services available! We want to grow, not shrink.
Frustrated by this plan, Saint-Pierre and the other bilingual municipalities in Manitoba began to lobby the government.
“Basically, the Association of Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities sent letters to all the ministers concerned asking them to reconsider their decision to close these offices, especially bilinguals, because these are services that are necessary,” explains the mayor. who worries about French. -Speaking farmers will not even have access to help in their own language if the province follows up.
The group considers that this approach goes against the priorities set out in the French-speaking community enhancement and support act adopted by the current government. They believe that the elimination of bilingual positions is a historic setback for the province and are frustrated that they were neither contacted before this decision was made nor informed of its reasoning.
Maynard adds that the government has yet to say anything in response.