Montreal suffers new layoffs by J&J, Sanofi

It's a one-two punch for Montreal's labor market. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Sanofi ($SNY) both said they would lay off workers in the area as part of ongoing cost-cutting efforts. J&J will be cutting 126 jobs at an R&D center attached to its plant in Montreal, while Sanofi plans to lay off 100 in Canada, with most of the cuts coming at its Montreal operations, the Globe and Mail reports.

It's just the latest blow to Quebec's life sciences business, which suffered a 28% decline in jobs from 2006 to October 2011. Among the other pharma operations that have laid off workers is Merck's ($MRK) Montreal R&D facility, which shut down in 2010. Of course, Montreal and its cutbacks are a microcosm of the shutdowns and layoffs worldwide over the last several years, as pharma girded for the patent cliff.

"This is a worrisome trend, but it's not happening only in Montreal," a local official told the newspaper. Life sciences consultant David Griller concurred, saying, "It's part of a global problem."

In fact, some regions heavily dependent on pharma employment would prefer to have Montreal's job-cutting numbers than their own. In the U.K., Pfizer ($PFE) slashed most of the 2,400 jobs at its site in Sandwich, England, while AstraZeneca ($AZN) announced plans to shutter its Loughborough site, cutting up to 1,200 jobs, and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) marked its Harlow facility and its 2,000 jobs for shutdown and layoff.

- read the Globe and Mail piece
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Special Report: Top 10 pharma layoffs of 2011