26 June 2012

Migrants and Migrant Labour #nlpoli

Russell Wangersky devotes his Tuesday column this week to migration and labour.  He starts out with a discussion of the recent quarterly population figures from Statistics Canada, notes that they run against the popular story that things are booming around here, and then segues neatly to a discussion of local labour shortages.

There is a feeling, at least in government, that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians away are somehow a sort of flexible employment pool, skilled workers who are willing to give up their stable, long-time Alberta or Saskatchewan careers to move their families back here at the drop of a job hat. 

Along the way, Wangersky hits a familiar point about how some people seem to think that the solution to our economic problems rests entirely with people who are supposedly ready to come home at any price.  They are homing pigeons, supposedly. Before you get too upset at that idea,  just remember that the Old Man Hisself once used that phrase.  Unfortunately, the CBC link in this old post is now dead but it does note that Danny Williams made the comment during a trip to Alberta sometime in 2007.  Maybe someone at the Mother Corp can dig out the link.

The other term that the word "migration" brings to mind is one of the solutions the current crowd running the place have used to cope with their stunning lack of success at economic development.  The term is  migrant labour.  Here's an excerpt from a post - "The Economics of Snuffleupagus" - that should give you a sense of how persistent the migration issue has been for the Conservatives:

It hit some new records in the best years of Danny Williams economic miracle.  That's right.  At a time when the economic miracle was taking hold people were flooding out of the Happy Province in near record numbers. The chart at left gives an idea of how big the problem has been.

There are parts of the province that are almost entirely dependent on migrant labour and remittance workers. 

In others - like Stephenville - the economic disaster of losing a pulp and paper mill on the Premier's watch didn't materialize solely because the workers there could find jobs in Alberta. 

But yes, you say, there has been more people coming back to the province since 2007, you say. 

And yes, that's true, but it isn't because of great economic opportunities in this province. 

Look around, especially outside the overpass.  All those enormous, job-creating projects that were supposedly luring people back don't actually exist.