SAINT ANDREWS (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $2.1 million in a wage supplement pilot program to be known as the Tourism Employment Fund for Seniors.

The fund will encourage the hiring of seniors, helping to use their experience and their desire to remain active and independent longer. It will also help tourism operators extend their season into the fall.

“Tourism is a key component of your government’s multi-year economic growth plan that aims to grow the economy and create job opportunities for New Brunswickers,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister John Ames. “This program will target seasonal tourism operators that typically downsize or close at the end of the summer season.”

Ames spoke on behalf of Labour, Employment and Population Growth Minister Gilles LePage.

The fund will provide seasonal tourism operators that operate up to eight months of the year with wage supplements to hire unemployed New Brunswickers who are 55 or older. Placements will last up to 12 weeks at a maximum of 40 hours of work per week. The program is expected to provide between 600 and 850 placements in the tourism sector this year.

“The Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick is confident that the Tourism Employment Fund for Seniors, geared towards creating a more resilient and inclusive labour market, is a positive step towards filling the labour gap we are faced with,” said Dan Myers, chair of the association’s board of directors.

Employers in the non-profit sector will be eligible to receive a 100 per cent wage reimbursement. Private sector employers will be eligible for wage supplements of 50 per cent of the minimum wage for placements.

Employers who are approved for a wage supplement will hire workers directly and are encouraged to top up wages beyond the minimum wage and to provide additional weeks of employment.

“I am pleased that our beautiful Kinsgbrae Garden was the setting for this announcement to assist tourism operators in hiring more seniors in our industry,” said the attraction’s director of sales and marketing, Brad Henderson. “Kingsbrae Garden is also working with partners to make Saint Andrews an age-friendly community, and this new initiative from the Government of New Brunswick will assist us in making that objective happen.”

More information on the fund is available online.