14 July 2011

Labour crunch coming

Only the naive or the demented would portray the looming labour crunch in the province as a “tremendous opportunity”.

A report released on Wednesday by the provincial human resources department forecasts that by 2020  - less than a decade from now - there will be 70,000 vacant jobs in the province.  They will be in all sectors of the economy.  They will be in all areas of the province.

The primary cause of the vacancies will be retirements. Only 10% of the vacancies will come from employment growth, that is from new job creation.

This is not an opportunity of any sort.  Newfoundland and Labrador will face a labour shortage at the same time as the rest of North America will go through the same problem. Many of the jobs will remain vacant because there won’t be anyone to fill the positions. Some other provinces, notably Quebec, will face a far worse situation.

This is a situation that the provincial government, labour unions and businesses have seen coming for more than a decade. So far, they have done nothing about it except talk about it.  Now the problem is here.

It represents a very real financial problem for the provincial government.  As baby boomers retire, some costs like health care will increase dramatically.  At the same time,  revenue sources will drop off as there are fewer people working to produce taxes and other sources of government revenue. Increasing the number people drawing a government paycheque may look good  for votes in the short-term, but when you look at the big picture, you can see just exactly how grossly irresponsible the current administration has been for the past seven years.

Regular readers of these scribbles will be very familiar with the implications of the looming labour crunch. Unsound financial management by the current administration promises to make the problem much worse than it would have been if people in responsible government positions had acted instead of talking before now.  The Muskrat Falls megadebt project looks even stupid in this context than it does standing on its own.

Only the naive or the demented would look on this as anything positive.

Government, labour unions and business leaders have seen this coming and they’ve done nothing about it except talk.

On Wednesday, they carried on as if nothing happened.

- srbp -