AFSC Branch Amalgamations Q&As
Four one-employee AFSC offices will be amalgamated with neighboring offices, and 38 branches will remain available to serve Albertans in rural communities, province-wide.
Q: Which branches will be amalgamated?
The High Prairie, High River, Rimbey, and Smoky Lake branch offices will be closed permanently as of May 1, 2021.
Q: How and where will clients be transferred?
Beginning immediately, AFSC teams will work with all affected clients and staff members to determine the best fit and a smooth transition for transferring existing clients to a new branch office.
AFSC clients have multiple branch options to choose from, and staff members will be transferred based on business needs. Clients always have the option to select any branch in the province to conduct their business, beyond those indicated in a notice they receive.
Our aim in this transition is to offer a great client experience based on existing relationships.
Q: How were branches selected to be amalgamated?
Prior to the budget process, AFSC reviewed their branch network from a “what makes good business sense” and a “what could work for our clients” perspective. As part of that review, consultation took place with a sample of approximately 250 of our clients to discuss service needs and preferences. The five offices chosen for amalgamation did not provide full service offerings – they had only one employee, limited foot traffic, and served a smaller client base.
Q: Why eliminate jobs in small towns and not head office?
No client facing or branch positions were lost in this amalgamation.
From these larger centres, AFSC will offer its full suite of products. With more employees on site, knowledge transfer and training will be more accessible—leading to improved client service. AFSC remains dedicated to serving small towns and rural Alberta and building a strong, growing and diversified agriculture and agri-food sector.
Q: How does amalgamating branches help AFSC save money? Was there something else that could have been done?
AFSC must be responsible with taxpayer funds, and consider business expenses and proximity to other services for clients. AFSC continually strives to streamline and improve our services, and all areas of the organization were thoroughly reviewed. Infrastructure costs associated with branch locations, such as rent and utilities, were considered.
AFSC has taken other business measures to reduce costs – including continual improvements to online technology to allow clients to complete their business online, increased staff flexibility to meet clients off-site (when appropriate), etc.
Q: Are the people I deal with being transferred? I want to deal with them at their new location.
Beginning immediately, AFSC teams will work with clients and staff members to determine the best fit and a smooth transition for transferring existing clients. AFSC clients will have multiple branch options to choose from, and staff members will be transferred based on business needs.
No client-facing staff were affected by the amalgamations.
Our aim in this transition is to offer a great client experience based on existing relationships. Clients always have the option to select any branch in the province to conduct their business, beyond those indicated in the notice they receive.
Q: How else can I access AFSC services – particularly if I don’t want to drive to a new location?
Data shows clients are increasingly choosing to connect through these channels, including live chats, emails or calls to our Client Service Centre.
Q: Will the office closure impact my claims service or my client experience?
No. At AFSC, claims distribution to inspectors is automated and the inspectors do not need to be in an office to manage claims. Priority of claims is not impacted by branch location.
To mitigate the impact of the staff reductions on client experience, AFSC offers:
- client service at 38 branch offices throughout the province
- online services through AFSC Connect or our chat line
- phone access through the Client Service (Call) Centre or with our branch team members
- face-to-face appointments at branches, as necessary, with COVID protocols in place
- on-farm face-to-face visits with AFSC personnel, with COVID protocols in place
- provincial cross-functional team collaboration during highest priority peak times
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, AFSC continues to monitor the provincial situation, taking guidance from Alberta Health Services and the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Strict protocols remain in place in all AFSC offices.
Q: I want to speak with the person who made the decision. I want to make a formal complaint.
The decision to amalgamate branch locations was not made by one person in isolation. There is a process that was followed that included an internal governance committee, the Board of Directors and recommendations were supported by the Government of Alberta.
Teams at AFSC are working to ensure minimal impact to our clients during this transition.