Atlantic provinces can no longer rely on the rest of Canada

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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7 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Are they right? Will there be no tourism and no fishing and no timber harvesting without UI to get people through the winter?Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Burt Likko says:

      People can’t live off working only part of the year if EI doesn’t support them, and there’s little alternative employment in resource towns. If people can’t make a living there, they’ll leave and there’ll be nobody to do the fishing and no facilities to support tourism.

      Finding some ways of diversifying the towns’ economies rather than having them solely dependent on seasonal industries would be preferable to EI, but that’s easier said then done, and even if we started making progress on that front now we’d still need seasonal EI supports up until some other industries got solidly established.

      And it’s the people, not just the industries. There’s all too little work of any kind in Newfoundland, and I don’t believe in punishing people for there not being any jobs available. The whole province can’t move to Alberta.Report

      • Are we sure the whole province can’t move to Alberta?

        I’m only being partially tongue-in-cheek here. Impediments to a mobile workforce are hurting our economic recovery. Alberta is leading the recovery in terms of job creation. Recently, Toronto has been doing ok, as well. (My hometown isn’t doing so great as government cuts have really hurt the job market… but we didn’t lose as many jobs at the initial downturn, so it helps to even things out.) If there are people that need jobs (and there are), we need to do our best to get them to the jobs that are available.

        Further, it isn’t clear to me that all industry would suddenly go dark if the government stopped paying a good chunk of their payroll. As the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador noted, we’re talking about a billion-dollar industry. Can someone explain to me how it is impossible for them to pay a sufficient wage to ensure that they actually have employees? Every other industry in every other region has to do this, what’s so peculiar about fishing or lumber?

        Perhaps they’ll have to rely on temporary workers. That would lead to fewer opportunities in the province as people who don’t want that sort of life leave, but if that’s the case, all we’re doing right now is propping up ghost towns. Can we really be sure that the East Coast economies are zombies? I’m a little doubtful.

        But again, a lot of this comes down to what we’re willing to pay for. Is it right that workers across Canada have to pay for someone’s quaint life in the East just because that person comes from a long line of people with quaint lives in the East? Is there ever a time we can just say, enough, if you want that quaint life, you have to pay for it? If I want to only work part time living a quaint life in downtown Ottawa, can I have someone else pick up the tab, too?Report

        • There is a decent argument to be made (by people who aren’t supposed to be writing papers on the future of weird American government programs) that if a person thought the government WASN’T subsidizing industry through its activities (and overlookings) in Alberta, pretty much the exact same way it has subsidized both fishing and the timber boom during past times of plenty for those industries, that person would be wrong. In a socialist country (including crypto-socialist countries like the United States), the government is always subsidizing one industry or another; it’s just a matter of what costs are being borne by society on the industry’s behalf. The government wants to throw money where it will make more money, no matter the long-term costs, and right now that’s oil.

          And if you think there aren’t people working only part time living a quaint life in downtown Ottawa, well. I bet if you gave me 2 weeks, I could find you several Senators who would fit that description quite well… I’m not paying for it, but if I were still living in Canada, I would be.Report

          • It’s kind of my dream to be a Senator. I just have eliminate any sense of shame I could ever have.Report

            • Mopey Duns in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

              I’ve worked in Ottawa on the Hill. All of the MPs work hard, even when they are ‘on break’, as people often think of the times when parliament is not in session(which usually means they scale down to a 40 hour week from their usual hours, which can be pretty long). They get paid well for their troubles(too well, probably), but they tend to be pretty busy, and generally quite conscientious about their committee work and helping their constituents, which takes up a lot of their time.

              Some of the Senators work hard too, and take their vocation seriously. The problem is that, unlike MPs, they don’t have to. So…some of them don’t.

              I guess my point is that you can be a Senator and keep your sense of shame. It just isn’t obligatory.Report

  2. North says:

    The Maritimes and especially Nova Scotia have been getting the shaft from the rest of Canada since they were dragooned into confederation.Report