Good news for government on industrial R&D expenditures

The latest data on industrial R&D is out and New Brunswick’s amount increased to $76 million compared to $62 million last year. Since 1999, total industrial R&D spending has doubled – the best growth rate in Atlantic Canada.

But there are two points to be made here:

1) NB is seventh in the country in this category (better than last). On a per capita basis, New Brunswick’s industry spent $101 per person in 2004 compared to $567 in Quebec and $594 in Ontario. BC was at $307 and Alberta at $273 – so you can see that NB in Atlantic Canada is the best of a bad lot.

2) Don’t forget we are only talking about industrial R&D here. The government spends far and away more on R&D than the private sector in Atlantic Canada. When you look at

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0 Responses to Good news for government on industrial R&D expenditures

  1. Anonymous says:

    Many private sector entrepreneurs are in the dark when it comes to innovation and R&D. I have discussed this with people from ACOA and BNB on several occasions. The story is always the same… They see ways to make the business more productive by streamlining the processes, but the business doesn’t want to eliminate the employment for some of the employees. Even if the cuts are short term. That is why Irving is hated by workers, but are the provinces largest employer. They look at a business and find ineficiencies and implement the changes needed, not worrying about becoming public enemy number 1. Then years down the road employment, revenue and productivity increases resulting in a payoff for the community.

    The lumber industry is a perfect example of that. If mills would have upgraded years ago, instead of worrying about job cuts, they would not be in the pickle they are in now and could have produced far more jobs because the mills would be leading edge. Folks, it’s a neccessary evil. We can’t sleep, when our neighbors are working.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s 100% wrong. Irving is the largest employer because it owns over three hundred companies in virtually every sector.

    The lumber industry IS a perfect example. If you don’t think job cuts are a common occurence in forestry you don’t know squat about forestry. The ONLY mills that have been upgraded in NB come about because our government pays for them.

    The problem has always been that there are so few companies and the government bails them out every time, that there is no need for innovation. Workers, woodlot owners and natives have been saying for over a decade that they need to switch from pulp and pressboard to high gloss paper products, but the companies have always refused.

    They made a fortune over the last decade because the rest of Canada had an embargo on their forest products. Now that the embargo is lifted, all of a sudden they are crying out that they will go broke and need all of NB’s forests handed to them on a platter.

    They are also recieving generous subsidies for technological enhancements, and that is ALWAYS another word for ‘layoffs’ or more likely ‘firings’.

    Technology DOESN”T provide more jobs, it never has. Take a look at India where the forests are lumbered with elephants for petes sake. They do that to EMPLOY people-and to manage the forests.

    In New Brunswick it is the opposite, the province is literally the third world when it comes to forestry. Everything has been handed over on a platter to foreign companies who won’t even assure the government they’ll stick around. New Brunswick taxpayers are paying to wipe out their forests, line foreigners pocketbooks who will bolt at the first sign that the government won’t keep shovelling money and goods at them.

    There is NO data out there that short term cuts lead to more jobs down the road. The only way that works is if you are the Irvings or McCains and have the government to bail you out at every opportunity. Small businesses don’t have that luxury, and quite simply, if you don’t have the workers, its pretty bloody hard to do more with less.

    To say ‘hey bob, we’re firing you and frank so that we can expand into a new territory and hire you and some others’ is nonsense.

    Show me ONE concrete example of that. The only one that exists doesn’t have anything to do with innovation. If you are going out of business and have the choice between firing two people or sinking faster, then obviously staying in business at least presents the opportunity to hire more people in the future.

    However, that has nothing to do with innovation. Small businesses don’t have the luxuries of Irvings and McCains or UPN. They have to survive and innovation is done by people, not machines.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There was a Mill on PEi that was purchased by a businessman from Scoudouc, NB. The mill employed 20 people and was losing tons of cash due to ineficient processes and outdated technology. When he bought it, they had aprox 20 employees.

    Upon review, he concluded the to become efficient in the short term he had to layoff half of his workforce and use the money to purchase leading edge technology that enabled the mill to produce double the lumber they used to. The new technology enabled the to identify in real time what wood product was in highest demand that day so they would cut that peculiar wood prodect that day.

    The next thing the mill owner did was operate the mill 24/7 year round. He discovered that by not turning off the machinery, he could cut in the winter and lessen the chances of equipement failure. People laughed, that mill now employs over double of what it used to with higher wages. Irving later bought it and it has received numerous awards for efficiency.

    If technology doesn’t provide jobs then your logic would indicate that zero jobs would be created in Alberta since they have discover more efficient ways to refine the oil sands. I guess medical advances like the xray machine didn’t create employment either or how about the hundres of thousands of jobs that the invention of the computer and the internet has created around the world.

    Get real, technology does create jobs and your comments prove my point that too many people in this region are ignorant to what would turn our fortunes around.

  4. Anonymous says:

    First, give us the NAME of that mill. You can make up anything you want and say that’s the case. We need to be able to verify your data.

    Second, I said technology doesn’t provide more jobs. Let’s talk about x-rays, since thats the example. How many x-ray technicians are there? Each hospital employs maybe one. Let’s take an easy example of,say, swallowing something. Before X-rays were invented, there was quite a simple procedure. The patient would be hospitalized, which requires jobs. Blood and stool samples would be taken, that provides jobs.

    A hospital employs FAR fewer people than were necessary in the past, because machines do the vast majority of testing. Machines can even be set up to do monitoring, something PEOPLE had to do in the past.

    Next, let’s go to the oilsands. THe process for separating oil from sand is really quite simple. But lets just take the first part-removing the sand. Take a look at a similar project of a century and a half ago, something like building the Panama Canal. That required literally millions of people working on it.

    In comparison, Alberta provides relatively few when considering what needs to be done. Removing the sand is accomplished by two pieces of machinery (the technology), a loader and a dumptruck. That’s two guys to do what, without technology, would require millions of people. That’s obvious. Without trucks they’d have to use wheelbarrows, how much work is that? Without wheelbarrows, they’d have to use shovels, then their hands. Obviously at each stage you need more and more people.

    Alberta is labour intensive as far as oil goes, they aren’t lucky like in Texas where you stick a drill in and the oil comes flying out. They have to do far more processing, which again requires more people, but technological enhancements keep making that less and less.

    To return to the mill, ‘losing tons of cash’ is not the same as the company losing money. If he was cutting double the lumber, then obviously those workers were replaced by automation. New sorters, cutters, stackers and wrappers are used. Those jobs are gone, they will never be back. You may say that a new job is created, some guys to come and set up the equipment, and some guys to maintain them. That doesn’t provide nearly the jobs, otherwise no companies would ever add technological enhancements. In fact, its been pretty much proven that technological enhancements often don’t even make financial sense, which is why there is a completely different tax structure for paying it off. Virtually every new technology, from machinery to computers is developed and subsidized publicly until it hits a saturation point where it is cheap enough for industry to adopt.

    Depending on the leasing deal, he will begin making more money. That means he can start doing something he never did before, like hire a computer guy to get on the internet to find out ‘what is selling that day’. That, of course, trims even more jobs because in the past they simply had no idea-so they cut everything and then called around.

    If he finds more customers, that’s something else entirely-that has nothing to do with technology. In the old days they used a phone, before that they cut and hoped for the best, which, again, employed far more people.

    There was huge waste-there was also huge employment. If he makes even more money, then he could decide to do other things, but those jobs are all gone. He could take his money and decide to buy more machinery to make flooring. But again, just because HE has more money, doesn’t mean he is creating the jobs, because all his pocketed cash is money that came out of some family he used to employ.

    To follow the Irving example, he could then take all his money and get into another line of business-he could start making potato chips or something. But that money came from money that used to employ people.

    You could say “ok, but what if those potato chips were never made there before and they start selling which means they need more people to work at a place which didn’t exist before”

    Again, all that money came from money that previously employed people. It all comes down to finding CUSTOMERS. That doesn’t require technology at all. If that guy was selling ‘double what he was’ then he could hire MORE people, not less.

    However, what has to be remembered, is that the forestry industry is no longer tied to jobs, no matter what the government says, it is tied to industry owners. That’s why government hands out cash for ‘technological enhancements’ and makes their leases tax free. We’re seeing that right now. There is even no pretext that it will ever provide MORE jobs, in fact UPN has stated quite clearly that even with crown fees cut and basically tax free status, there will still be layoffs. In fact, they even state that there is no guarantee they will stay open, which is code for “you better keep the goodies flowing or we’re outta here”.

    Forestry CAN provide jobs, in fact it is in one particular case-small woodlot owners (including natives who manage small acreages of crown land). They are actually hiring people, and they do that for one reason, they can’t AFFORD the massive technology. As I said elsewhere, India is more proactive than Canada, they ban technology completely from forest excavation and use people and elephants. That promotes ecological conservation as well, something completely foreign to New Brunswick.

    One skidder in NB can do the work of a hundred cutters-and does. That’s why we’re running out of trees, that’s why these companies have never changed their business models-why would they? The government gives them cheap wood, and will bail them out if trouble comes (which it has).

    Now that other countries do it far cheaper (they don’t have high technology costs, they’ve just made sure they have low labour costs and no environmental costs), these guys have to find another product. But once again government is paying so that machines will do the work, and I can guarantee you that if we could get hold of the stats, you’d find the Irving and UPN mills, once retrofitted, will employ even fewer people.

    And computers haven’t created hundreds of thousands of jobs, they have in fact displaced hundreds of thousands of jobs. Take bookkeeping for example. Before, accounting was done by massive departments who put numbers in ledgers. When you needed figures there were people employed to find it. Offices today, in fact, run without permanent bookkeeping staffs at all.

    In Canada, you can look at that other instantly accepted technology-the banking machine, which has eliminated over ten thousand jobs from the banking industry.

    The internet is most useful as a selling tool. Over its lifetime it has resulted in thousands of jobs lost that used to be done by researchers. As said above, like all others, the internet wasn’t even cost effective, which is why the public system had to develop it until it reached a saturation point where money could be made, then it was privatized. The exact same thing happened with radio and television.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I knew you would call me on the name and have been looking for it for a while since I forget the name of the mill. The gentlemen that purchased it was Roland L├ęger, from Norwood Windows. I’ll let you run around the net to find the name.

    Keep living in your bubble since by you accounts we would still be sending our women to the river to wash our clothes. Technology creates jobs both directly and indirectly, it’s a fact. The mill in question create new full time employment, which created less dependance to the EI system and provided stability to the community.

    “One skidder in NB can do the work of a hundred cutters-and does. That’s why we’re running out of trees…

    Have you ever flown over NB? 90% of our land mass is forest, conme on!!!

    “In Canada, you can look at that other instantly accepted technology-the banking machine, which has eliminated over ten thousand jobs from the banking industry.”

    PLEASE!!! They replaced those jobs with higher paying, efficient contact center positions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    No, I don’t think women should be at the river washing clothes, but I think India is on the right track, as are more and more countries and companies in selective harvesting. I suggest you take another look at that overhead map. ALL of NB crown land has been harvested twice, much of what you are looking at are undergrowth trees, ones that are less than ten years old. Trees simply can’t be harvested that quickly, only certain hybrids of poplar are lumber ready in less than a decade, and i don’t even think New Brunswick has many stands of poplar.

    And with a 50% reduction in crown fees and elimination of environmental regulations, we’re going to see a LOT more cutting, and faster. Take a look around and on most drives you can even see the clear cuts now, they are so close to the road. We have a camp in northern new brunswick around Keswick, and there are massive clearcuts and logging roads all over. Oddly enough the logging roads are in better shape than many NB highways and logging roads are paid for by YOUR tax dollars.

    The banking industry saw employment drop by ten percent a year while banking machines were introduced, those ‘high paying jobs’ you are talking about, although I don’t know where they are because bank hiring is literally at a standstill, are mostly in the insurance side of banking. Those aren’t high paying, but they are usually commmission based, so you can make good money if you are a hell of a salesman.

    But you can’t just simply state something as fact by denying evidence. When you find some evidence to back up the argument then fine, otherwise there’s nothing to discuss.

    Nobody said anything ‘bad’ about technology, like that we shouldn’t have it or anything ridiculous like that. The simple fact is that it replaces work done by humans, and it has no ‘mind’ to wonder about what its doing. A skidder doesn’t care that it just wiped out an entire section of forest in one day.

    In fact, originally there were great arguments because technology could EASILY have been used to replace managers, not workers. You noticed that virtually the opposite happened here, and administration in most areas are the only places with jobs.

    That’s not necessary, in a hospital setting the technology available today with some minor tweaks could literally replace every admnistrator out there.

    That’s the same with forestry. THe internet makes selling easier, it makes locating suppliers easier, it makes getting product to market easier and decision making extremely easy. In fact, it is just as easy for owners of plants to be gotten rid of, which is why our government system doesn’t allow that. It creates disincentives to small organizations like woodlot owners and natives, and massively favours the owners of huge companies.

    It certainly doesn’t have to be that way. As said, India’s governmetn owns the land AND the mills. The people work on locally owned and often communal woodlots with elephants. SOME technology is allowed, for topagraphical surveys, scientific evaluation, bookkeeping, etc., but the technology like skidders that destroys wantonly and quickly is not allowed. Only select cutting is allowed, which has meant that value added products are made close to the source for cost reasons.

    And THAT gets far more people off EI and into the workforce and creates jobs.