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In April, the Alberta government turned over employment services in Jasper to a for-profit firm from Edmonton. Since the closure of the Canada Employment Centre in 1996, these services had been provided by CUPE members working for Jaspers Family and Community Support Services Department (FCSS).

By sharing resources and administration costs under FCSS, Jasper received a lot of employment services for a small price. Just as importantly, this non-profit community agency had experienced, knowledgeable staff and enjoyed the support of local residents, business and clients.

There was no need to contract out this work, said Terry Mutton, President of CUPE Alberta. Local 1458 members were doing the job efficiently and cost effectively, and they had the support and confidence of the community.

In 1998, when the province took over employment services from HRDC, it was forced to abandon its decision to reduce hours by a spirited community campaign led by CUPE member, Ginette Marcoux-Frigon.

Despite that support, the Klein government has awarded the service contract to an Edmonton company that does not meet the basic requirements to submit a proposal. For example, it does not know the Jasper labour market or its special requirements, is not community-based, and does not have experienced bilingual staff in Jasper.

As a tourist area with a very seasonal labour market, there is a heavy influx of job seekers coming to Jasper in the spring and summer months. About 50 per cent of the youth seeking employment are Francophone.

CUPE 1458 has mounted an Im On Your Side, Alberta campaign to keep employment services non-profit. As well as a petition postcard, they are advertising their position on the radio and in the local newspaper. To receive petition postcards, write Ed Hanson at CUPEs Regional Office in Edmonton.