13 February 2012

Busting the boom in central #nlpoli

Headline:  “Grand Falls-Windsor growing without mill”.

Sounds marvellous.

Then you read the story.

Turns out that the central Newfoundland town is doing well without its major private sector employer because people are shifting there for the public sector jobs and services.

There’s a passing reference to mining, and then this:

But more importantly the community is a service centre for towns in the Exploits River Valley and communities on the northeast coast.

The hospital in Grand Falls-Windsor was already the town's largest employer before the mill closed and the community has a shopping mall, restaurants and car dealerships.

Some people from nearby communities have been moving in for those services.

Regular SRBP readers have seen this before, like in 2010.  The core of the story is still the same.  People – mostly retired people on fixed incomes – are headed for town where it is easier to shop and get medical attention when they need it.

Nothing surprising in that at all.  That’s what we’ve been expecting them to do, in fact.  Government demographic assessments dating back 20 years all pointed to this as one side-effect of the aging population. 

But any economic assessments at the time anticipated there’d be a large private sector employer that would be bringing new money into the economy from export sales.  That new money would help drive the economy in the form of wages and help pay for municipal services through various taxes.

That employer is gone and so central newfoundland, like so many parts of the province, is depending very heavily on the bloated provincial treasury to keep pushing out cash as it has been since the Tories took office.  There’s absolutely no question about the relationship between public spending and the local boom in central when the public purse is the source of the boom. Cuts to public spending, whether in Grand Falls-Windsor directly or in the surrounding communities, will have an effect on the town’s economy. 

The boom might soon start to bust, at least if the provincial government actually does what Premier Kathy Dunderdale says they’re going to do. Tighten those belts, folks.

- srbp -