The Feds are Comin’! – or not

A few months ago I wrote a story on the rumour that the Federal government was going to decentralize its operations more throughout Canada to raise good will and support regional economic development, yadda, yadda, yadda. I was reasonably optimistic about this possibility as it has been used in various ways in other countries.

But beyond moving the Canadian Tourism Commission to BC, I don’t think anything ever materialized of that. If I am wrong, let me know.

What got me thinking about this was a new report out last week in Newfoundland that finds federal government jobs in that province are way down since the early 1990s – and to rub salt in the wounds – the authors state that just as the province was facing huge hurdles in other sectors, the Feds also cut dramatically.

New Brunswick also saw a decline in federal jobs after the 1991 recession – but the Memorial study also found that the Feds hired less in Atlantic Canada during the rush of hiring in recent years than in other provinces. Again, they point out, this despite those other provinces having much stronger economic growth.

Growth in Fed Jobs
NL – 1%
NS – 4%
PE – 6%
NB – 3%
QC – 10%
ON – 13%
MN – 4%
SK – 1%
AB – 8%
BC – 9%
CAN – 9%

Source: Federal Government Presence in Newfoundland and Labrador (Nov. 2005)

The authors make the point that if Newfoundland had just received the national average in new federal jobs (or a 9% growth), it would have meant over 600 new high paying jobs. I would say the same for New Brunswick.

It’s a bit weird that the Liberal government doles out all this candy around election time but when you peel back the covers, they are spending the same or less on economic development in New Brunswick, hiring less fed employees here than elsewhere and having less overall economic impact than before.

But Equalization was up $84 million last year.

Less jobs, less economic development but more Equalization.

Sounds like a recipe for success – er…. at least somebody’s version of success.