Lit­tle time for the province’s ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties

The Compass - - OPINION -

Bu­colic, pas­toral, pic­turesque. This is a land bor­dered by fierce oceans with pow­er­ful breach­ing whales, with spec­tac­u­lar ge­ol­ogy and some of the world’s old­est fos­sils to boot. This is a land of an­cient tongues and an­cient songs, brought over when Canada didn’t ex­ist, a land the Province features in its award-win­ning tourism ads.

And where are most of the spots? Other than “ye olde Saint John’s,” th­ese com­mer­cials largely fea­ture ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. That’s right, Province. R-U-R-A-L.

Who’s go­ing to be hurt the most by the most re­cent round of cuts in sup­pos­edly oil-rich coun­try? Ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

The lat­est pre-bud­get moves were 167 pub­lic sec­tor lay­offs of mostly tem­po­rary and con­trac­tual.

One bets they were not in St. John’s, but in smaller ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties that ser­vice ru­ral ar­eas.

There’s also the de­ci­sion to stop fund­ing groups that pro­vide em­ploy­ment as­sis­tance pro­grams, many who help peo­ple in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. What’s government’s re­sponse?

Oh, that’s OK, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills. They can go di­rectly to larger cen­tres to ac­cess the ser­vices needed.

Hit the whammy but­ton. That’s the wrong an­swer, peo­ple. We are talk­ing about un­em­ployed peo­ple who ben­e­fited from the ser­vices in the past be­cause it was eas­ier to go to the of­fices in ques­tion. If you are un­em­ployed you may not even have ac­cess to a ve­hi­cle, let along gas money.

And you pos­si­bly don’t have ac­cess to a com­puter to fill out forms; if you are un­em­ployed, you may not have the ve­hi­cle or the gas money to drive to the near­est lo­cal li­brary to use the com­puter. You could rely on “shanks mare,” but walking can only go so far if weather doesn’t co-op­er­ate.

As for the rev­enues off New­found­land coasts, who is see­ing the ben­e­fits? St. John’s and some parts of the Avalon Penin­sula, of course.

Government wants to re­duce its deficit; that is ten­ta­tively com­mon sense. But what good is it if ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties are hurt­ing and more New­found­lan­ders are head­ing off to the ug­li­ness of the Al­berta tar sands to find work?

Ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, where much of New­found­land and Labrador’s her­itage and cul­ture was born, are bear­ing the brunt of the cuts.

Those beau­ti­ful tourism ads won’t do our vis­i­tors much good if our ru­ral cul­ture is be­ing scoured by government cuts, and the Province’s un­will­ing­ness to start rein­vest­ing in that area.

There won’t be any­one to sing the old songs and play the bo­dran and ugly sticks for you, tourists, be­cause they’re all go­ing to Al­berta.

— Sue Hickey, The Ad­ver­tiser

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.