The longest commute

I have openly mused about the unwillingness of Atlantic Canadians to ‘commute’ for work. I find it a little bizarre that a place like Moncton can have job shortages while communities 30-60 minutes’ commute around the community have unemployment rates of 15% and in some cases higher.

But maybe Atlantic Canadians don’t like to drive to work because they prefer to fly.

There is an interesting emerging trend for tradespeople based in Atlantic Canada to commute out to Alberta work six months and then come back to Atl. Canada and not work for six months (or pick up odd jobs).

And now the unions are getting involved actually providing training for tradespeople here when there are no jobs here for that type of training. Never fear. They can work in Alberta.

PEI Union trains workers for Alberta

P.E.I.’s Carpenters Union has been running courses in how to properly use scaffolding, and it plans to run another in the near future. Most of the participants don’t stick around to work on the Island, instead heading for jobs in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am actually glad they can live here for a few months (although many end up taking their families and moving west). But my preference would be to find jobs for them here.

Or maybe in an ironic sense that should be Atlantic Canada’s raison d’être. To be Alberta and Ontario’s labour market incubator. Those provinces would keep the subsidies rolling. We would keep training their next generation labour pool. Churning out university grads. Training tradespersons. Cranking out workers as fast as Ontario and Alberta could take them.

There’s an interesting and innovative approach to economic development!


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0 Responses to The longest commute

  1. scott says:

    I find it a little bizarre that a place like Moncton can have job shortages while communities 30-60 minutes’ commute around the community have unemployment rates of 15% and in some cases higher.

    Two quick ones on this. Firstly, when I went to Ottawa back in 1995, I had no vehicle and little money. So when I got there I stayed with by brother, who lived in Nepean(a suburb of Ottawa)and worked in Kanata(so he couldn’t drive me to Ottawa). Therefore, in order to get to my interviews, I commuted by transit to the city. And eventually, I found work and was able to save enough to find my own place and car. My brother went through the same process as I did in the late 80’s after he relocated from NB to Ontario. He is now an executive working for Cisco systems. Do you think he would be where he is today if he had decided to stayed in an economically depressed NB? Probably not, but that’s not my point.

    Anyway, getting back to the point, if there were better infrastructure(i.e. buses or trains) which promoted travel more often to and from greater Moncton, there would be a rise in commuters and a decline in rural unemployment. Thus, more people would be paying taxes and the economy would be strenthened so that we could upgrade the infrastructure every 5 or so years. Thus, moving in the direction of an true economic revival.

    Secondly, which is really answered by my first point, I don’t believe that many people, who live in regions with unemployment rates of 15 to 20 percent, have two vehicles to share so that they both can drive to work. Never mind that, many individuals can’t even afford to insure one car with the provinces high insurance rates. So how are they going to get to work?

    My broad point being, that if we don’t invest in the modernization and infrastructure of our urban and rural fringe areas, we will be left in the dust by those cities and surrounding communities who do adjust. It is as simple as that.

  2. David Campbell says:

    That’s a good point. I am a huge supporter of a four lane highway to northern NB and around the top of the province but as I have lamented in the past highways are built in New Brunswick based on increased traffic (reactive) as opposed to supporting growth strategies (proactive). If we hadn’t scrapped the toll highway in 1999 I bet we could be building that four lane right now. But there’s no value in regret.

    But to the broader point, I know of at least two firms that bus in workers from Albert county and from Memramcook to work in their plants. But again this are specific examples with no overall strategy to lessen unemployment in the rural fringe communities by trying to leverage the economic growth in the urban core.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That makes a big presumption, that people in rural areas are too poor to have a vehicle, or that somehow more people would work in the city if the roads were nicer.

    While I’d love a commuter setup like Ireland has, especially since it would bring in federal money, there’s really no evidence that the result would be any different than our current reality.

    Cities are doing better, but you really have to look at where the job shortages are. They aren’t areas where rural workers can fill the need. A good percentage of them is in health care, and no rural worker has those skills (they’d be at school and no longer rural).

    Just go to the census and pick a rural area, I did one and virtually every person working travelled to and from work as a single driver in a car or truck.

    However, I DO think that several problems could be resolved by having tolls on the highway, rather than simply accepting “no value in regret”, what about making it an issue? What about more blogs on it and perhaps some statistics on other toll highways and how much is lost due to no tolls? One can easily say that with ANY economic development plan there is no value in regret, but isn’t that the reason for blogging? To get ignored issues out there?