Ottawa is legalizing recreational cannabis for Canadian adults as of Oct. 17, but the federal government is leaving the administration of what is expected to be a new multibillion-dollar market largely in the hands of individual provinces and territories.
While some regional governments have opted to keep retail cannabis strictly under public control and others are allowing private industry involvement, every jurisdiction will need to administer and monitor their respective regimes.
BNN Bloomberg reached out to every province and both territories planning brick and mortar retail cannabis sales (Nunavut will be an online-only market), below is a summary of their responses.
Also in this series: Pot staff needed: Quebec, Ontario slow to hire for legal cannabis
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Both retail and wholesale cannabis will be under private control in Canada’s easternmost province, but the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation has created eight new positions to ensure the market runs smoothly and participants follow the rules. As of June 20 the NLLC had hired two inspectors to handle quality control, one auditor, an audit technician, an accounting clerk, a graphic designer and an admininstrative assistant. The only position left unfilled is a senior cannabis control investigator in charge of loss prevention.
Three non-customer-facing positions have been established at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation to administer the province’s network of 12 retail locations expected to be operational by mid-October. A category manager and a product management specialist have been hired and the NSLC has posted a listing for a coordinator position internally and will post it externally if a qualified internal candidate is not found.
The province’s legislative framework was only proclaimed last week, meaning Cannabis NB is still in the process of being incorporated as a subsidiary of provincial booze retailer NB Liquor (ANBL). “Cannabis NB will have a combination of dedicated employees and employees who will work on the Cannabis NB business through a shared services agreement with ANBL, which is designed to create operational efficiencies,” Sarah Bustard of the New Brunswick finance ministry told BNN Bloomberg via email. “A broad call for applicants across the province has been put out by ANBL and they are still determining the exact number of employees.”
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
With plans to have four standalone cannabis stores across P.E.I. by early fall, P.E.I. Liquor hired Zach Currie in January to be its director of emerging markets and channel development as the only administrative position fully-allocated to cannabis implementation. “Our intention is to staff incremental administrative positions as we progress towards implementation,” Currie told BNN Bloomberg via email. “When the P.E.I. Cannabis Management Corporation (PEICMC) is formally established, there will be a shared-service delivery mechanism set between [P.E.I. Liquor] and PEICMC for various components of the business [such as] finance, HR and communications.”
Despite being lauded by the private sector for its hands-off approach to recreational cannabis retailing, Manitoba government agencies are putting their hands directly on oversight of the nascent sector. The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba is working with current staff to prepare for its new regulatory responsibilities, but spokesperson Lisa Hansen told BNN Bloomberg via email that the regulator is “waiting to see what the new ongoing demands for our organization will be post-legalization to determine if additional human resources are required.” On the distribution side, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has hired eight new employees, including two customer service coordinators, three buyers and a business analyst.
“Retailing and wholesaling of cannabis in Saskatchewan is being conducted by the private sector,” a spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority said in an emailed response to questions from BNN Bloomberg (emphasis theirs). “Recruitment for all positions in sales/distribution will therefore be the responsibility of the private operators.” In response to several follow-up questions, the SLGA clarified it “is adding additional resources related to the upcoming legalization of cannabis, specifically related to the regulation of the industry in the province [and] is in the process of hiring 10 to 15 people to work in regulation.”
Similar to neighbouring Saskatchewan, virtually all the public service jobs related to legal cannabis in Alberta will be on the regulatory side as the private sector will be managing would could be the country’s largest cannabis retail network (more than 450 individual license applications have been received so far). The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will be renamed the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission. “Final numbers and costs have yet to be determined,” AGLC spokesperson Heather Holmen told BNN Bloomberg via email. “However, the AGLC has hired about 100 additional staff… to oversee the regulation of private cannabis licensing and operation of the provinces’ online cannabis store, and may continue to recruit based on organizational requirements.”
Canada’s westernmost province appears to be the most transparent about its cannabis recruitment process. A spokesperson for the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch pointed BNN Bloomberg to a website advertising available cannabis positions and noted the first of roughly 130 positions to be located in the LDB’s cannabis distribution centre will be posted soon. “The LDB is undertaking significant recruitment efforts to establish a dedicated cannabis operations team across its retail, digital, supply chains, distribution and corporate environments,” Kate Bilney told BNN Bloomberg via email, adding the organization has also “appointed a dedicated team of directors across its wholesale, distribution, retail, merchandising, and digital departments, as well as an executive director to oversee the overall operation.”
Spokespeople for Yukon and the Northwest Territories were not able to provide an update on cannabis-related recruitment by deadline.