Job Killas

Liberal MLA Zach Churchill: “I find the NDP “job killas” line about the Liberals so hilarious and absurd.”

Projex Atlantic President Scott Richards: “If the message that we send to Alberta is that it is difficult to get started here, they are not going to come.”

Unfortunately for Churchill and the Liberals, it’s not just the NDP that are wondering why the Liberals are attacking each and every job investment announcement.

With the Liberals speaking out against every bit of good news in Nova Scotia, others have begun to wonder what their strategy might be. Stephen McNeil’s doom and gloom attitude in the face of our province’s brightening prospects has been noticed, not just by the Tories and the NDP, but by the business leaders visiting the Legislature.

On Wednesday, McNeil stood in the Legislature and questioned the integrity of the president of a company that has come to town creating $90,000/year jobs for Engineering graduates. Did McNeil know that Scott Richards was sitting right behind him in the Gallery? Or does he just not care? Either way, it was another telling example of McNeil’s poor judgement.

Scott Richards, the President of the Atlantic Region of Projex, has asked the Liberals to stop making his company a political football. He was in town for a week, and while McNeil was happy to throw insults around in the Legislature, the Liberals did not meet with him.  Here is his letter, sent to editors and the Liberals:

As someone born, raised and educated in Nova Scotia, one of the happiest moments in my 20 plus years of working in business and creating jobs was leading the expansion of Projex into Nova Scotia last year.

For more than a decade, Projex operated successfully out of Calgary, with more than 200 engineers and other specialists providing services to a wide range of oil and gas companies in Alberta. But Projex hit a major barrier in its growth as a business – a hot Calgary job market where engineers were difficult to retain at a reasonable salary.

That’s why Projex chose to locate and invest in Nova Scotia so that we could meet the high demands of Canada’s oil and gas sector in Alberta from a more cost effective location. Since September 2011, Projex hired more than 40 people to our Halifax office, earning an average salary of more than $90,000. We made these hires without a single penny of government support and without a single tax break. Not a single employee of Projex left their previous employer based on government support of Projex, because there hasn’t been any government support in our first year of business in this province. It is false and misleading for any company, organization or politician to make this claim. During this time without any government incentive, twelve hundred people have applied for jobs in our Halifax office. Five hundred of those applicants live in Nova Scotia, seven hundred of them live elsewhere, mostly in Ontario and Alberta.

While Nova Scotia’s tremendous advantages gave Projex plenty of reasons to come to Nova Scotia last year, engineers continue to be in high demand, not only in Calgary, not only in Halifax or across Canada, but around the globe. To meet the growing demands of our energy customers in Alberta, Projex needed the certainty around business costs to make a commitment to significantly grow our workforce, either in Nova Scotia, or another jurisdiction. That’s why we concluded an agreement with the Government of Nova Scotia through Nova Scotia Business Inc (NSBI) to create 440 new jobs in Nova Scotia supported by a tax rebate.

Here’s the great thing about NSBI’s longstanding payroll rebate program first established by a previous Liberal government and expanded by a previous Progressive Conservative government and now used by the current NDP government. It helps companies reduce their business costs through lower payroll taxes, but only after they have created and maintained jobs. No new jobs; no tax break. Government and by extension the taxpayer is not out any money by supporting Projex or any other company through NSBI’s payroll rebate program. It’s the ultimate economic development tool because it always protects the taxpayer interest, which is probably why it has been championed by all three parties in this province.

For more than a year, countless Nova Scotians have warmly welcomed Projex to this province, which, as a Nova Scotian leading the Nova Scotia Office, makes me feel both proud and humbled. Premier Darrell Dexter, Nova Scotia Business Inc CEO Stephen Lund, Greater Halifax Partnership CEO Paul Kent, Dalhousie University President Tom Traves, Halifax Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Barbara Pike, to name but a very few. We are also working hard to give back to our community in which we live and have launched our first United Way of Halifax workplace campaign and already have our corporate name on the wall at Canadian Blood Services on Bayers Road.

Projex applauds Premier Darrell Dexter and his government for acting on the recommendation of Nova scotia Business Inc., where investment decisions are made through a private sector board of directors free of all political considerations.

In the meantime, we would welcome the opportunity to address any questions anyone has with our commitment to investing and creating jobs in Nova Scotia before they decide to criticize Projex’s decision to support the creation of good jobs in Nova Scotia.

As a company, we are always prepared to be accountable to any government program for which we qualify for support. All we ask is to not make us a political punching bag, as that has the potential to hurt our ability to actually deliver the jobs over the next five years as well as Nova Scotia’s reputation for attracting investments and new jobs.

When Liberals laugh at the idea that they are hurting the economy of Nova Scotia with their politics of negativity, they should recall the last sentence of Scott Richards’ letter.