by Ashley Janes
Morinville – The Career Employment and Counselling Services (CECS) centre in Morinville will be shutting down after learning that the provincial government will not be renewing their contract, set to expire on Dec. 31. Centre Manager Charmin Rockwell said CECS was not given an extension in their contract due to funding cutbacks. “It is not economically feasible for CECS to operate without government funding, and it is expected that any new contracts would be good for only one year which makes it extremely difficult to offer staff any type of stability,” Rockwell explained.
Opened in 2002, the centre won the Chamber of Commerce Medium Sized Business award twice. CECS records show that more than 400 services per month have been provided to town residents, including walk-ins, phone calls, appointments and assistance with the resource center. CECS has also offered regular computer courses ranging from basic to intensive training, helping residents develop the comprehensive computer skills needed to be successful in the workforce. Rockwell said whether community members are looking for work or looking for employees, CECS has provided a variety of programs, workshops and services to help them in their search. “We have assisted with career choices, career changes and career planning for people of all ages and abilities,” she said.
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec commented on the closure, explaining that the Government of Alberta will offer the same assistance for job seekers through Alberta Works. Centre clientele can transfer to the closest office in Westlock where Kubinec said they should experience no disruption in services as a result of this change.
Morinville Chamber of Commerce president Simon Boersma feels differently, arguing the closure will negatively affect both job seekers and local businesses. “This is going to hit our community hard,” he said. “We need a resource centre. We still have people coming in that do not have a properly written resume and who are not prepared for an interview. This is the kind of thing the centre was doing, trying to assist their clients to ensure that both the employer and client where well matched. They held a lot of specialty seminars for clientele and, for us, they were only one phone call away.”
Although management has not provided a specific date yet, the CECS centre will be closing its doors sometime in December. Rockwell will update residents as soon as she knows for certain. “We are disappointed that we are no longer going to be providing services to the community,” she said. “There will potentially be a gap for those who have transportation issues and cannot get to Westlock. We are currently trying to work with other community groups to see if there could be some type of service offered when we are gone. We have been very grateful for the time we have had in Morinville and for the support from community members.”
The following information is for the Westlock branch of Alberta Works. Address: 11304-99 Street, Westlock, AB T7P OA4, and phone: 780-349-7700.