The real truth about NB’s employment figures

If you listen to the government’s interpretation of the labour force data that is published by Statistics Canada every month, you would get the feeling that things are going pretty good. You will hear comments like the Premier made to The Empire Club of Canada in Toronto a couple of weeks ago where he stated that the “best year-over-year job growth in Canada last month wasn’t in Ontario, it was in New Brunswick”. Well, I have slightly different figures to report. Looking at comparable months from 1999 to 2004 and using seasonally adjusted figures (you must do this because of the seasonal nature of employment in the province), New Brunswick’s job creation record was third worst in the country and well behind both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (October 1999 to October 2004). In addition, there were approximately 3,000 more people unemployed in October 2004 than in October of 1999 – that’s a 7.2% increase in the number of people that were unemployed. Among the 10 provinces, only Ontario saw a larger increase in unemployment than New Brunswick. In my opinion, if you want to trace the reason for this tepid employment growth (combined with the overall population decline that I have covered in an earlier blog) you need look no further than that speech that the Premier made to the Empire Club. When he wasn’t outlining his vision for ‘My Canada’ he did talk briefly about his record in New Brunswick. He stated: “Since 1999, 80 per cent of all new spending has gone to health and senior care [and] 30 per cent has gone to education.” The 10 percent, he said, has come from cutting other government spending. They have cut economic development and infrastructure supporting programs to fuel health care. How’s that for a long term growth strategy.