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Atlantic Beef deadline flexible: Ghiz

P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz said yesterday he’s willing to extend the deadline past the end of September before making a final decision on the province’s future involvement in the Atlantic Beef Products packing plant.

The province has been a minority shareholder since 2002 and also built the waste treatment plant to support the facility, which has the only federally-inspected beef slaughter capacity in Atlantic Canada.

Ghiz, in an interview on CBC News, said there have been financial talks with the other Atlantic provinces and the federal government, and progress has been made on a new business study for the plant, which started production in December 2004. With a solution this close, he said, it makes no sense to hold the parties to the deadline.

The province put a $1.5 million cash transfusion into the plant in June, and once that money runs out as expected by month’s end, there won’t be any more unless other provinces also invest, Ghiz told reporters.

The plant was conceived during 2002 and 2003 by the Atlantic Beef Producers Co-operative, which was to be its majority shareholder. Co-op Atlantic also invested in the facility.

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