ATHOLVILLE (GNB) – The provincial government is providing financial support to eligible individuals interested in taking part in the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick’s (CCNB) cannabis cultivation program in Campbellton, in partnership with Zenabis Ltd.

“Your government is committed to ensuring the legalization of cannabis focuses on protecting vulnerable populations and keeping the proceeds out of the hands of criminals. While these are our priorities, we are also taking advantage of the economic opportunities that this new legalized environment offers New Brunswick businesses,” said Labour, Employment and Population Growth Minister Gilles LePage. “Your government is pleased to partner with CCNB and Zenabis to support the responsible development of a trained, professional, skilled workforce for this industry. I applaud CCNB for recognizing this and for their agility in responding quickly to the needs of business, such as Zenabis.”

The province will invest up to $117,000 to pay the tuition costs of eligible participants in CCNB’s 20-week cannabis cultivation program at the campus in Campbellton. The program will be offered in French. Registration for the program will be from March 26 to April 9 and it will start on May 7 and continue until Sept. 21. The program can accommodate up to 20 participants. Those interested in taking part in the program are encouraged to contact a regional employment office to see if they are eligible.

This program has been designed to meet the needs of the industry by focusing on the development of basic employability skills. With this specialized training, graduates will be provided with knowledge and skills in the field of cannabis production that will enable them to contribute to the rapid growth of the industry. The graduates will become technicians in cannabis production. They will be trained on the different stages of production in a controlled environment.

In addition, the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is currently funding five positions under the Workforce Expansion Program and three positions through the One-Job Pledge program.

The province also invested in a similar 12-week program offered in English at CCNB’s Dieppe campus last fall.

“We are proud to be able to offer the cannabis cultivation program in French at our Campbellton campus,” said Suzanne Beaudoin, director of the campus. “In addition to responding to the growth of a priority sector for the provincial government, the program also addresses an urgent need for a qualified workforce in order to meet the needs of our local producers in this emerging industry.”

Last November, a memorandum of understanding was signed with Zenabis to supply the provincial government with cannabis for the recreational market.

Opportunities NB has made cannabis a priority sector for economic growth, actively aligning its efforts to ensure the economic, academic and regulatory portions of the industry connect. A key component of the strategy involves the development of quality educational programs to ensure New Brunswick’s workforce is trained to meet the specific needs of the province’s licensed cannabis-producing companies.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to support this industry-specific training program,” said Kevin Coft, CEO of Zenabis Ltd. “The timing could not be better as Zenabis is currently expanding and doubling our production capacity. This is exciting news as it allows the participants to complete their practicums with career and growth development opportunities at our state-of-the-art-facility here in Atholville.”

In the summer of 2016, Opportunities NB and the Regional Development Corporation, through the Northern New Brunswick Economic Development and Innovation Fund, invested a combined total of $4 million in the Zenabis facility. The company’s plan is to create 208 full-time jobs in Atholville by the end of 2021. At full operation the company is expected to contribute about $15 million annually to New Brunswick’s GDP.

Opportunities NB is projecting the creation of up to 3,000 new cannabis jobs in the province by the end of 2022.