St. Stephen – After the announcement last week that Arauco will be ceasing operations on the particle board side of its business, which means the loss of 60 to 75 jobs in St. Stephen, operations at the plant were closed for the week, in order to allow time for the employees to process the news.
As the Arauco employees head back to work on Monday, RBC Royal Bank has set up an advice event to offer support and planning to affected employees.
According to Arauco, it has offered voluntary severance and early retirement packages to all of its employees in St. Stephen with a decision deadline of September 6, giving employees three weeks to make a complicated decision – at a time when they are facing many other difficulties.
The advice event, which Branch Manager Cheryl Brown says will be held on the third floor of the civic centre on Wednesday, August 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., is intended to alleviate some of the unknowns in that decision making process.
“There’s going to be a very short time period from people to make some really heavy decisions,” said Brown.
When she heard the news about the layoffs Brown reached out to some colleagues in other communities which had faced significant one time job losses, and asked them for advice. From that, came a presentation and the idea to do a community session to help Arauco employees answer some of the questions they might have.
“We have a lot of experience with advice events,” she added, “from teaching people about fraud to teaching them how to do online banking.”
Brown says the presentation focuses on the resources people have to support themselves and their families. “We just want to make sure that they are going in with the information they need. Whether they bank with RBC, or whether they go to their own bank, they need to know what questions to ask.”
“That’s really the end goal – that people feel more comfortable with these huge decisions that they have to make.”
Brown noted during times of high stress and emotions, misinformation tends to travel through social circles, and can contribute to the overwhelming feelings people have about the future.
“Most of us know somebody who has been affected by a job loss of some sort,” she said.
“So we want to make sure that people have the right information, because every situation is different, and what works for one person might not work for another person.”
Brown said people often find talking about banking and money uncomfortable, and that as a result they may not want to talk openly with their own bank about all of the options available to them. She said, “There are a lot of really good things that can be done, maybe they’re going to go to their bank and get an extended amortization or an extended payment option to free up some cash flow just until they get settled.”
Mike Dunham, an investment retirement specialist, will be at the event to answer questions related to pensions and early retirement, and financial planner Jody Rideout will be on hand to provide guidance.
Brown said after the presentations there will be advisors available to help answer any other questions people might have in a one on one format.
“We are committed to supporting this community through this difficult news,” she added.
“We understand that these are uncertain times for many employees and we are hosting this event to provide advice on how to manage the unexpected.”