Opportunities New Brunswick gives pot grower $1.3m payroll rebate
Published Friday, July 6, 2018 3:46PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, July 6, 2018 4:58PM ADT
Opportunities New Brunswick is providing a payroll rebate to one of four companies that have signed a deal to supply cannabis for the province’s recreational market.
Canopy Growth Inc. of Ontario is building a $40-million production facility in Fredericton and Opportunities New Brunswick -- a Crown corporation -- will provide a payroll rebate of up to $1.3-million if those jobs come through. Those jobs will range from growing to shipping. The company says it will be create up 136 jobs between now and the year 2024.
“I think when we sit down and say we want to go after something we do, we go after it, and we were the first province to knock on the door,” said Opportunities NB CEO Stephen Lund.
Agreements to supply cannabis have also been signed with three other producers: Organigram Inc., Nuuvera Inc. and Zenabis.
Bruce Linton, the CEO of Canopy Growth, says no prior experience in growing cannabis is necessary.
“Uh, we don't want you to be an expert in growing marijuana because it means you're probably doing something illegal currently,” Linton said. “We want you to actually be able to arrive on time, willing to learn, and I think, for some of the jobs, we’ll post, it will give people an opportunity to return home.”
Ross Wetmore is a Progressive Conservative MLA and the member of the official opposition is critical of the financial commitment the province is making.
“This is a company that is rich in cash,” Wetmore says.“It's really frustrating that the Gallant government decides to give $1.3 million to a company like Canopy Growth when they're ignoring small business in New Brunswick.”
In March 2016, Opportunities NB Inc. inked a payroll rebate deal with Organigram Inc. that gave it the potential to earn payroll rebates up to a maximum of $990,000 during a 3-year period.
Opportunities New Brunswick is projecting that Canopy Growth will contribute $61-million to the provincial GDP.
The Tories say any economic benefit from marijuana is being overhyped.
“I believe we're going to lose money and lose a substantial amount of money,” Wetmore said.
Canopy Growth Inc. Is hoping to be up and running by the time recreational marijuana is legal Oct. 17. It has some work to do on the building where it will grow the cannabis.
“We have to upgrade all of the electrical systems,” said Linton. “You're going to have, in each of these rooms, more than 100, 1000-watt lightbulbs and you're going to have thousands of plants, so you're going to need air flow, which means huge amounts of air conditioning systems.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.