August 24th, 2016 12:25pm AT
The New Brunswick government sees the marijuana industry as a major economic driver in the future, which could create thousands of jobs, according to a senior official.
Susan Holt, the provincial government’s economic policy adviser, told Information Morning Fredericton on Wednesday that the province has high hopes for the marijuana sector.
“Year over year we’re expecting hundreds next year and hundreds more the year after that. So over a five-year term, we are looking at this being thousands of jobs,” said Holt.
Holt said she believes over time the marijuana industry can create thousands of jobs, but says some of those jobs require education.
She feels researchers in the province are amongst the best in the country and will be required to expand as the industry does also.
On Tuesday, the provincial government announced $4 million in funding to Atholville-based Zenabis to build a medical marijuana facility in the northern community.
Holt said that is just the start of the possible jobs.
“We anticipate a need for labour, the jobs Zenabis will create and what other producers will create, may challenge the talent pipeline,” said Holt.
“So we’re going to assess what kind of educational systems we have in place to deliver the kind of people can work in either the product research or production side of it to make sure that educational side of it is being supported.”
The province has been struggling with stubbornly high jobless levels in recent years.
In June, Statistics Canada said New Brunswick’s unemployment climbed to 10.3 per cent from.
There are other reports showing the marijuana sector could be adding jobs to the provincial economy.
Radio-Canada reported on Wednesday that British Columbia-based Canutra Naturals is buying the former H.J. Michaud research farm in Bouctouche, where it will process hemp and produce hemp products.
“You can develop 50,000 different products from this plant,” said Canutra’s New Brunswick marketing director Stu Mills.
“It’s the start of a major movement. It’s the start of a major industry here.”
Holt said Moncton, St. Stephen, Fredericton and Atholville are hot spots for the industry and feels the whole province would do well in the industry.
She said the labour force, industrial equipment and the knowledge of growing other produce can help the industry to flourish.