Saskatchewan government to assist displaced PotashCorp employees

03 December 2013 23:13 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Saskatchewan will provide employment assistance to those employees who are losing their jobs as a result of the decision by PotashCorp to cut 18% of its workforce, the Canadian province's government said on Tuesday.

The fertilizer producer announced earlier in the day that it will be reducing its workforce in Canada, the US and Trinidad due to what it described as a sluggish environment for fertilizers, most notably potash and phosphates. PotashCorp said that it needed to reduce costs during the current market downturn while maintaining operational flexibility.

In Saskatchewan, home to almost half of the world’s known reserves of potash, the company will reduce its employee numbers by approximately 440 people. Province Premier Brad Wall said the government will send out its rapid response teams to assist those released employees in finding other jobs.

Wall said that Saskatchewan has already seen job losses in the natural resource sector this year but that overall the economy has remained strong with thousands of new jobs created in other areas of the province.

“Obviously, this is not good news for those employees and their families,” Wall said. “We are fortunate that this has occurred at a time of relative labour market strength and that our economy today is more diversified than ever. Our economy is strong enough to absorb this kind of job loss.”

Wall has directed provincial Economy Minister Bill Boyd and Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris to further enhance current government work on matching training resources with current and future labour needs and to help smooth a transition to opportunities outside the potash sector during a time of temporary potash sector slowdown.

“There are many jobs available," Wall said. "We just need to make sure Saskatchewan people have the skills and training they need to fill those vacant positions.”

Revenue from potash currently accounts for about 3.5% of the province’s $11bn (€8bn) budget, Wall said.

The global potash market has been in flux since July when a trading venture between Uralkali and Belaruskali broke apart after Uralkali accused its partner of selling product independently and destroying the fundamentals of the agreement. The decision sent the potash market into immediate turmoil and sent stocks of the various producers of the crop nutrient into a steep decline.

($1 = €0.74)

By Mark Milam