FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has created a transition adjustment committee to help former employees and the community following the closure of the Brunswick smelter in Belledune.

“The loss of more than 400 direct jobs is devastating news, and it will be felt by the entire region once the smelter closes at the end of the year,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “For that reason, a transition adjustment committee has been struck. This committee goes beyond a typical workforce adjustment committee as it will not only focus on employment support for the affected workers but it will also concentrate on economic development opportunities in the northern region.”

The committee’s formation was one of the actions resulting from last week’s meeting in Belledune involving Holder; Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Robert Gauvin and Environment and Local Government Minister Jeff Carr; along with representatives from the steelworkers’ union, business leaders, the mayors of Belledune and Atholville and local members of the legislature.

The committee’s membership will be finalized in the coming days and discussion will begin on ways to help the community.

A meeting will also take place on Friday, Nov. 22, between government and community stakeholders to provide an update on the situation.

“Working through this challenge will require partnerships,” said Holder. “Everyone involved has the same commitment, which is to bring forward ideas to support these workers, their families and the community. A collaborative approach is necessary to help the community with this transition and to explore new employment and economic development opportunities.”