Gov­ern­ment must do more to boost em­ploy­ment

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - EDITORIAL -

Dur­ing my work­ing years, I was most for­tu­nate — and most grate­ful — to ob­tain con­tin­ual em­ploy­ment un­til I re­tired af­ter 30 years.

I was most blessed to se­cure work in our prov­ince and the only re­lo­ca­tion to which I sub­jected my fam­ily was when I changed job sites at my own choos­ing. I never re­ceived any time- and- a- half or over­time pay; how­ever, I earned reg­u­lar in­come that al­lowed my fam­ily to en­joy a com­fort­able life.

To­day, if I were seek­ing em­ploy­ment in our prov­ince, I would be eco­nom­i­cally frus­trated, as the work here is so un­pre­dictable; young fam­i­lies must have dif­fi­culty with the con­stant un­cer­tainty of find­ing full-time em­ploy­ment.

To­day, some fam­i­lies have both adults seek­ing em­ploy­ment to help the fam­ily merely sur­vive and meet daily house­hold bills. Many house­holds to­day can­not af­ford to en­joy large fam­i­lies and, with both adults work­ing, there is less fam­ily time and the ne­ces­sity for hired babysit­ters.

The work­ers in our prov­ince to­day have more train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion than did my gen­er­a­tion; yet they can find less work here and are forced to strug­gle to main­tain some form of mod­est fam­ily life­style.

For young fam­i­lies of our prov­ince, this makes a bleak and dis­mal pic­ture that will lead to des­ti­tu­tion and may lead to an in­crease in so­ci­etal is­sues that, in the end, will put greater strain on our pro­vin­cial econ­omy.

Our pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment mem­bers were elected to rep­re­sent us and work to­wards what is best for cit­i­zens.

Although we did not present the gov­ern­ment mem­bers with a writ­ten agree­ment say­ing they would pro­vide all work­ers with full­time em­ploy­ment, they should ac­cept greater re­spon­si­bil­ity for the lack of em­ploy­ment for our bet­ter ed­u­cated, trained young men and women.

In front of cam­eras and re­porters, the gov­ern­ment blandly boasts of mega-projects, yet re­al­ity loudly ar­gues that far too many of our trained work­ers are un­em­ployed.

As Des Sul­li­van has noted in his Un­cle Gnarley blog, our pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal stripe, al­lows com­pa­nies such as Nal­cor to to­tally con­trol the award­ing of con­tracts for the con­struc­tion of trans­mis­sion lines from Muskrat Falls to the is­land.

Be­sides the con­struc­tion of the hy­dro­elec­tric dam at Muskrat Falls, many kilo­me­tres of trans­mis­sion lines and many large steel tow­ers have been erected, and many of the work­ers are not from this prov­ince.

We have work­ers from other prov­inces of Canada and work­ers from fur­ther away who come here to work for very im­pres­sive wages and with gen­er­ous travel sub­si­dies.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment should have our work­ers com­plete this work or, if we did not have the work­ers with the needed qual­i­fi­ca­tions, then pre­vi­ous ad­vanced train­ing should have been pro­vided to enough young peo­ple from our prov­ince to com­plete the work.

Sim­i­larly, we see the mas­sive He­bron oil plat­form be­ing towed from Bull Arm to its des­ti­na­tion in the Jeanne d’arc Basin, 350 kilo­me­tres south­east of St. John’s.

Some who seek un­de­served praise brag about the em­ploy­ment cre­ated in its con­struc­tion at Bull Arm, but they ig­nore that much of it was built far away by other work­ers.

Now this ques­tion must be asked very loudly: how would a young per­son from our prov­ince se­cure em­ploy­ment on this oil­rig that will pro­vide liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions for 220 work­ers?

If our pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment had our best in­ter­ests at heart, all work­ers on this oil­rig would be from our prov­ince and, if ex­tra train­ing were needed, Exxon­mo­bil should pay for the train­ing.

And yet an­other mega-project is promised: Husky Oil has a $2.2-bil­lion project us­ing a fixed well­head plat­form, and con­struc­tion will be com­pleted in Ar­gen­tia. Pre­mier Dwight Ball boasts “it will em­ploy at least 700 peo­ple at peak.” How­ever, as with Exxon­mo­bil` s He­bron, some qui­etly whis­per that much of this project will be com­pleted by an un­named con­trac­tor in the Gulf of Mex­ico area.

Here, the ques­tion is: do we have enough skilled work­ers to con­struct this plat­form here? If we don’t, we should al­low Husky Oil to pro­vide the needed train­ing for the many un­der­em­ployed trades­peo­ple in our prov­ince.

Harold Peach Salmon Cove

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