DARTMOUTH - Although Xerox Canada has joined BlackBerry and Convergys as the third business to layoff HRM workers this month, a local expert says this isn’t a reason to worry about the city’s economy.
© Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper
The Xerox location in Burnside.
On Tuesday, Xerox spokesperson John Quinn confirmed 48 people are being laid off from the customer contact centre in Burnside. He said some employees were dismissed Tuesday, while others were given 30 or 60 days notice.
“Decisions like this obviously are never taken lightly and we’re grateful to those employees for their service,” Quinn said.
Quinn said the company decided to downsize after looking at their 2014 business plan. The decrease will ensure the “appropriate level of resources are in place” to support their business clients, he said.
He said 135 employees remain at the Dartmouth customer support centre, and this is the only planned layoff at this time.
Cindy Roberts, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Business Inc., says Xerox had three payroll rebates from the agency between 2002 and 2012.
Roberts said the current payroll rebate – effective from 2012 until 2017 – hasn’t been used by the company to date. However, Xerox is still eligible for the payroll subsidies if it meets growth targets in the future.
BlackBerry is closing its Bedford office in January, putting over 300 people out of work. Then last week, Convergys announced it will shut its doors on Dec. 31 after 15 years in Dartmouth, laying off about 130 workers.
Lars Osberg, economics professor at Dalhousie University, said it’s not unusual for contact centres to “come and go,” and the closures don’t signal a downturn in Halifax’s economy – especially since Blackberry has “problems of their own.”
“The big picture is fairly positive over the medium term,” Osberg said, citing projects like the shipbuilding contract and downtown development.
Osberg said although the recovery from the 2008 recession has been “lackluster,” it’s better than slipping backward. He said it’s also a good sign the city has unemployment rates below the national average.
“Halifax is a diverse economy with a lot of niche services and a manufacturing sector, and I think that’ll just continue,” Osberg said. “Compared to other Canadian cities of … the same size, we’re doing fine.”
– by Haley Ryan, Metro Halifax, with files from The Canadian Press