SAINT JOHN – TD Insurance will create up to 250 new jobs over seven years and invest $7-million in upgrades to its Saint John business services centre, the company announced at a press conference in the city Monday afternoon.
If seven years sounds like a long time, Frank McKenna says don’t worry about it. It won’t really take that long.
The former premier, now deputy chair of TD Bank Group, was in Saint John for the announcement. He told a packed room at the TD Insurance Centre on Rothesay Avenue that the new jobs would be filled in a shorter time frame despite the language in the announcement.
“That’s just legalise. We’d never take seven years to do that,” he said. “I’d say we’ve already started hiring some of that 250 and our record speaks for itself.”
The Saint John centre has been open since 1994 and was one of the early contact centres established in the province when McKenna was premier.
“Welcome here to where it all began,” said McKenna when he began his formal remarks. “On April 2, 1994, [former bank president and CEO] Ed Clark and I announced 54 jobs, and we thought that was a pretty big deal because it got our toe into the water in the financial services sector and we were pretty happy about that.”
The centre will employ around 1,000 people once it hires the next 250 and McKenna identified some people in the room who had been there since the beginning nearly 25 years ago.
“I kind of have to laugh at the critics who used to say these types of jobs were never going to be permanent,” said McKenna. “They said, ‘no what we really need are resource jobs.’ These jobs have proven to be more resilient than the mines and mills in the province, which have had much more temporary life spans.”
It was the second major TD job announcement in New Brunswick in the last two months. McKenna was in Moncton in April when TD announced it was creating more than 1,000 jobs at a new centre in Dieppe.
“Don’t tell anybody at TD that the bank is slowly moving to New Brunswick,” said McKenna, which got laughs in the room.
“Having once had the chance to serve this province [as premier], it gives me huge joy to continue to do what I always thought was important. And that was to help bring jobs to people, to give them the dignity that goes with work and to make the taxes available to provide the badly needed services that we want. These dots still connect as much today as they did 25 years ago.”
Opportunities New Brunswick will invest nearly $5-million in the form of payroll rebates toward the creation of the new positions. Premier Brian Gallant said it’s tax money well spent.
“The business services sector is an important part of your government’s multi-year economic growth plan, and we are pleased that TD Insurance continues to invest in New Brunswick and create jobs for families in our province,” said Gallant.
The government says once all of the jobs are filled, the expansion of the centre would contribute an estimated $15.5-million to the GDP and $669,000 in provincial income taxes annually.
As part of its expansion plan, the company is investing $7-million in upgrades to its facilities.
Kenn Lalonde, president and CEO of TD Insurance, said the Saint John centre is an essential part of its operations.
“Our business in this community is integral to the service and support that we provide to our customers, and the people of Saint John have helped us to deliver great results over the years,” said Lalonde.
The province says the business services centre sector employs 18,000 people and contributes an estimated $1 billion to the province’s GDP annually.
“Imagine where we’d be if we didn’t have those 18,000 jobs,” said McKenna.