Manitoba to shut two ag department offices

Two communities will lose their local-level offices of Manitoba’s provincial agriculture department, as part of a list of operations to be consolidated into others nearby.

The GO (Growing Opportunities) offices, as they were dubbed during a 2004 restructuring, have closed effective "immediately" at Starbuck, about 30 km west of Winnipeg, and at Fisher Branch, about 160 km north of the city.

Starbuck’s GO office functions and staff will move to the GO office at Carman, about 50 km southwest, the province said Friday.

Fisher Branch’s GO office will close, but the provincial crop insurance and farm financing agency, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. (MASC), will maintain its office at the same site.

"These changes mean we can reduce expenditures and also restructure, streamline and modernize the services our government provides," provincial Finance Minister Stan Struthers, a former ag minister, said in Friday’s release.

"We are saving money without layoffs or by moving positions to Winnipeg."

Those consolidations, along with several rural offices of the provincial conservation and water stewardship department and of the province’s local government department, are expected to create total cost savings of $140,000 a year.

The merger of the conservation department’s library services into the Manitoba Legislative Library in Winnipeg, also announced Friday, will amount to another $210,000 per year in cost savings, the province said.

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