Opinion: AFSC head office remains in Lacombe

Recently, there have been some suggestions that Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) is leaving Lacombe and taking hundreds of jobs with it. I would like to correct this misinformation and clarify AFSC’s position.

First, AFSC’s head office is staying in Lacombe. There are no plans to move AFSC’s Lacombe Central Office (LCO). The Lacombe location, in the heart of central Alberta, positions AFSC to best serve Alberta’s diverse and vibrant agriculture industry. The city of Lacombe is an important part of AFSC and the role we play in Alberta agriculture and agri-business industries.

Second, hundreds of jobs are not leaving Lacombe. AFSC will continue to have the same number of positions based out of the Lacombe Central Office. We are not exporting jobs to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. We do have a very small number of employees, less than one per cent of our total workforce, who are working remotely from other provinces; these agreements are temporary in nature and only allowed in special circumstances. We understand the need for strong, local leadership – leadership that knows agriculture and Alberta – and our leadership team remains here, in central Alberta.

Third, AFSC is not moving to a virtual workplace. There have been suggestions that Lacombe is facing a situation similar to Athabasca, where Athabasca University is transitioning its employees to a near-virtual model. This is not happening at AFSC. While many staff members are working from home during the pandemic, the expectation is that staff based in Lacombe will return to LCO when it is safe to do so.

What is happening is that AFSC, like many other businesses, is adjusting to new realities created by the pandemic. COVID-19 has fundamentally altered many aspects of the economy, including how and where we work. Employers provincewide are adapting to these new realities, including committed employees wanting more control over how and where they work.

Throughout its 80-year history, AFSC has evolved and adapted to changing economic and social realities. The changes being made now are no different. Rapid advancements in technology are altering all aspects of everyday life, and agriculture is no different. Alberta’s producers are investing in new technologies and new ways of doing things, and AFSC has to be with them on that journey. We need to ensure we have highly-skilled people who understand and appreciate agriculture and the role it plays in the province of Alberta.

This means that AFSC may, from time to time, recruit people from other areas of Alberta and allow them to work remotely. It does not mean AFSC is outsourcing jobs or moving to a virtual workplace. We are simply ensuring we have the right people in the right positions so we can serve our clients today and into the future. As a Crown corporation with employees spread throughout the province, it remains important to us to employ Albertans and we continue with our long-standing Alberta-first recruitment policy.

AFSC is invested in the future of agriculture in Alberta and in our future in the City of Lacombe. We value our relationship with Lacombe and its residents – many of whom are part of the AFSC team. We remain committed to Alberta and its rural and agricultural communities. Together, we are building a future that will provide for generations to come.

Darryl Kay is the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation’s chief executive officer.