Federal grinchiness and economic growth in New Brunswick

New Brunswick Tory MP John Williamson in Saturday’s TJ:

“MLAs from both provincial parties have approached my office to ease the employer requirements under the temporary foreign workers program, something I will not do”.  He “maintains the program is meant to be lengthy and burdensome, with employers required to pay a decent wage, travel costs and cover health insurance for foreign workers.”

To be honest, I am getting more fatigued by this issue by the day.  A few of us are trying to get politicians to think strategically about the role of immigration to foster population renewal, cultural vibrancy, entrepreneurialism, ambition and economic growth in New Brunswick and the politicians want to recite rote talking points.

Now, lest you want to slay my argument with examples, put away your sword.  I am not talking about individual cases but the principle.  When I talk to a trucking firm in New Brunswick and am told that it is easier to get TFW approval in Toronto than in Moncton for a trucker and therefore the firm will be hiring in Toronto for jobs that could be easily and preferably done out of Moncton, I am concerned.  When I hear the LMO process went from 2-3 weeks to 6-8 months for the exact same job in just a year or two, I am concerned.  When I hear that employers here are told they have to pay a national average wage rate in their sector in order to bring in TFWs and that would put the TFW wages above current employees, I am concerned.

But those are all side shows to the real issue.  The real labour market is starting to tighten – in the urban centres and in rural areas – despite relatively low rates of employment and continued net outward migration.

The federal government’s evolving view seems to be predicated on the view that if they clamp down in New Brunswick on immigrants and TFWs, that will force employers to push up wages or do whatever it takes to get recalcitrant unemployed NBers to go to work.  The issues related to skills, mobility, interest, etc. are not relevant to this view.  You tighten the screws and employers will respond.

That may work – and I stress may – with those employers that base their business only on the local market but for those in traded/export industries, they are likely to just move their investment elsewhere further exacerbating the problems in New Brunswick.

Minister Carr soldiers on saying he is focused on getting NBers the right skills for the jobs and doing better matching.  Good for him but there are ample signals all over the place that things are getting worse and we now hear there are thousands of jobs on the horizon – good paying jobs.  Who knows what will happen?

It would be nice for the federal government to actually take an interest in New Brunswick’s plight.  The fact that it’s economy has performed worse than all other provinces in Canada for six years should have bureaucrats and NB interested politicians in Ottawa reaching for their Sharpies and whiteboards instead of grinning like the Grinch and saying now is the opportunity to force the bums into work.

 

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One Response to Federal grinchiness and economic growth in New Brunswick

  1. I am generally in agreement with the sentiments expressed here, but we should be clear that the government does not intend the TFW program to be a pathway to immigration – quite the opposite. So making it more or less stringent does not impact the case of immigration in New Brunswick.

    In any event, it shouldn’t matter what the federal government thinks of immigration here. If we were really serious about it, we could take measures that substantially increase immigration. But there isn’t a government in power or in opposition that is really serious about it, because that would mean supporting and maybe even hiring people without ‘ancestral ties to New Brunswick’ (as opined in a letter in today’s T&T).

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