News » Whistler

Chamber of Commerce loses federal funding



Services, training for employees no longer fits into HRDC plans

The loss of $78,000 in funding from the federal government will not stop Whistler’s Chamber of Commerce from going ahead with plans to open a new welcome centre for employees.

"This is disappointing," said Chamber President Brent Leigh.

"It came to us as a surprise as we were actually negotiating an expanded contract with Human Resources Development Canada.

"But the reality is that HRDC is definitely cleaning house across the nation.

"The federal government will spend another day and we will be in position to be there."

The chamber has used the funding in the past to provide not only front line services but also a host of programs aimed at helping unemployed people. These included resume writing, research on other jobs, interview techniques and counselling and career services.

HRDC geared the finding toward helping those who were unemployed in the workforce get back to work.

That description doesn’t actually fit most of Whistler’s employees, as in this dynamic market the competition is usually for employees, not jobs.

"A lot of what we performed as a function for HRDC was not in the core of their funding mandate," said Leigh.

Currently the chamber board is looking at how to raise funding to make sure the front line services are maintained.

"We are looking for funding strategies to cover that off," said Leigh.

Two staff members are affected by the loss of funding.

The core services the chamber will retain include a welcome place where employees can get first line job resources in Whistler, access to computers, fax machines, copying for resumes and general service. Job postings on the board and on-line will also be maintained as will the annual job fair.

The chamber will move into a new office in the village in the new year. The building is currently under construction, between the Blackcomb Lodge and the North Shore Credit Union building.

Leigh is saddened by the loss of services the chamber will be able to offer.

"What will be affected is how well we nurture the employees coming and going form the resort," he said.

"We lose a piece of quality in that area. It is the train, retain, and refer areas, those are the things we lose if we don’t have the resources to do this.

"So we watch some of those employees leak out of the community.

"And like most things that are part of the social network you don’t know they are gone until they are gone."