Opinion Letters

Jobs could be lost if CIGI leaves

Blaine Pedersen, MLA for Midland and PC Critic for Agriculture and Rural Initiatives

I recently had the opportunity to tour the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI) facilities. The Institute is an important contributor to our provincial economy, supporting the improvement of agriculture while employing approximately 35 employees in well-paying, technical jobs in Winnipeg.

?For the past 40 years, CIGI has been instrumental in the promotion and utilization of Canadian field crops by customers from around the world. In excess of 34,000 people from 110 countries have used CIGI's research facilities and resource personnel to better utilize our homegrown grain products. Many of these customers visit Manitoba annually, spending money at local businesses during their stay.

?The presence of valuable research and development facilities like CIGI contribute to various important long-terms plans for the development of Manitoba's economy, such as CentrePort.

?It has come to my attention that the City of Saskatoon has made an offer to move CIGI to their city. Losing CIGI to another province would harm the economy of Winnipeg and Manitoba. In addition to the loss of CIGI's skilled staff and valuable research facilities, it could have a negative impact on the potential development of a centre of excellence in grain crops research in Winnipeg. Yet the silence from the provincial NDP government on this initiative is deafening.

Greg Selinger and the NDP seem content to sit and watch while well-paying, skilled head-office jobs leave Manitoba. It is exactly this kind of attitude that is damaging our long-term economic prospects and creating huge deficits and debts that Manitobans will be forced to pass on to their children and grandchildren. Selinger and the NDP need to act now, before the economies of Winnipeg and Manitoba suffer yet another self-inflicted blow from the NDP.