Manitoba & New Brunswick – partners in decline

Steve Demmings, one of the architects of the Manitoba call centre initiative in the early 1990s is now lashing out at the Manitoba government for its lack of vision on economic development.

He talks about Nova Scotia’s success in great detail but he says something that is less accurate:

New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord has a strategy. He saw the impact of the McKenna Miracle and attracted 37 companies, creating 8,023 new jobs. Companies, including Rogers Communications, Imperial Oil, IBM, AOL, Center Beam and Exxon Mobil, have been welcomed.

Now, from his outside perspective Premier Lord is piggybacking on McKenna’s strategy. It is true that most of the miniscule job creation over the past six years has been call centre expansions but I would hardly call this a strategy.

His characterizations of Nova Scotia are much more accurate:

Nova Scotia has taken the contact centre sector to “the next level” in creating higher-end careers. On Nov. 26, 2005, Hamm, Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), and Stephen Lund, CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc., announced a 1,200-person Level 3 and 4 technical support centre. RIM will invest $230 million and employ college and university graduates at $45,000-$48,000 annually and offer careers for the 40,000 college and university students attending Nova Scotia institutions.

He concludes:

According to Statistics Canada, Manitoba experienced a net loss of 6,211 people (mainly to Alberta and British Columbia) in the first nine months of 2005. Can we now add Nova Scotia as a destination for “our best and brightest” searching for rewarding careers because of Manitoba’s lack of vision for the knowledge economy?

Despite Steve’s obvious baggage (nostalgia for the 90s – I can relate) – he makes a series of good points.

If Nova Scotia can do it, why can’t Manitoba? Why can’t New Brunswick? If PEI can develop an aerospace cluster, why can’t NB?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Manitoba & New Brunswick – partners in decline

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think more examples should be forthcoming. It’s possible Nova Scotia ‘just got lucky’ with RIM. That’s hardly a ‘strategy’ either. I think a book on how PEI built an aerospace industry, that more than anything shows real government involvement in the economy in creating an industry. The sad fact is that with NAFTA all of Canada is becoming the new maritimes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Steve Demmings’ Solution to Ailing Thunder Bay Economy: Low-Paying Call Centre Jobs

    In a recent edition of ExportWise published by Export Development Canada, Steve Demmings was quoted as advocating low-paying call centre jobs in replacement of high-paying resource-based jobs such as those until recently plentifully available in Thunder Bay’s forestry and pulp and paper sectors.

    The article entitled ‘Call Centres: Ringing in Profits’ reads as follows:

    According to Site Selection Canada [Demmings’ personal consulting firm], in the last three years 166 call centres were established in Canada, creating about 50,000 jobs. Of these, 60 per cent were smaller call centres located in tier two and tier three cities, with up to 300 employees. This would indicate an emerging opportunity in the smaller centres such as Thunder Bay, Sault Saint Marie, Bathurst and Sydney.

    “We have a strong infrastructure and a growing reputation for delivering quality service at an affordable price. The next step is to focus on education and training, especially in those resource-based communities where industries are dying. This is a great opportunity to build our skill level and give people meaningful jobs at decent salaries of $40,000 to $60,000 a year,” says Demmings.

    I don’t know what I find more reprehensible, the fact that Mr. Demmings clearly doesn’t understand the fact that call centres only pay their employee operators between $8.00/hr and $11.00/hr (i.e. $16,640 and $22,880 per year respectively based on a 40-hour work week), or the fact that notwithstanding Mr. Demmings’ palpable lack of understanding of the economic development needs of the City of Thunder Bay, that the CEDC has in its infinite wisdom hired Mr. Demmings to lead Thunder Bay out of economic decline.


  3. Anonymous says:

    In a recent article in a local Thunder Bay newspaper, Thunder Bay CEDC Founding CEO, Steve Demmings is quoted as saying: “In a changing world, Thunder Bay is miles ahead of many other communities that have been besieged by what’s happened in the forestry sector.”

    If that’s true, Steve then why is it that the Conference Board of Canada recently ranked Thunder Bay dead last as the worst city in Canada? Which Canadian city’s economy will you ruin next, Steve?


  4. Anonymous says:

    A rhetorical question for the members of Thunder Bay City Council:

    If a pathological bubble-blower whose ‘economic development strategy’ is little more than flatulence falls in a Thunder Bay forest, does he make a sound?