Thursday, May 11, 2006

Outmigration & Economic Diversification

No matter what the causes or possible solutions are for NL's chronic high unemployment, one feels a duel sense of loss, yet pride, when a family member has to move away for work. 1000's of families in Newfoundland & Labrador experience this every year. This weeks outmigration included my brother, one of his co-workers, and brother-in-law - three skilled, talented and valuable people. They are all in their 50's, and have left the Burin Peninsula because the fishing industry which employed them for decades has closed its doors. Though I feel the void of daily communications with my brother already, it is a good yet sad story. The sad part is obvious, leaving a home, wife, family & friends, community involvement, and comfort. A gifted musician, hard worker, and community volunteer, he continues to make me proud. At 52, he will work at least 60 hours per week in his new job. None of them wanted to leave, but the options are currently limited. The good side of the story is that they are like 1000's of other Newfoundlanders who leave NL each year, and proved their determination to work.

Also, because of Alberta's amazing economic growth, it has a big appetite for migrant workers from all over Canada, thus, mouth watering salaries and wages are earned by workers. In that regard it is great to see Newfoundlander & Labradorians get a piece of the rich economic pie. Fat is good when it is followed by 'pay cheque'. Often times money earned outside the province is sent home to help pay the bills, for kids' education, etc. It is still sad that so many long to stay home but have to stay away for long times. Newfoundland's economy is diversified, yet needs
to increase to keep more people here.

Diversify
Our population has dropped by almost 3000 people between Oct. 2004 and Jan. 2006. From 5000 - 9000+ leave the province each year. There have been strategic economic plans for the province, comparisons to successful Iceland, and perhaps an over-hopefulness about what mega projects can do for employment right across the province. Some of the projects like the Lower Churchill, Hebron, take a long time to become a reality, and have stumbling blocks to development, like the energy bill from the Newfoundland government. Overall I think our economy is progressing but
slowly.

While big projects are being developed, our leaders in whatever government in power, should always send a message to our people to never take any potential development for granted. As a people we should continually be encouraged to analyse the potential that our individual talents have, to not just Newfoundland consumers, but to international buyers. There are a number of internationally renowned high tech businesses, boat tours, and island lodge stay overs, but there is much more potential to develop not just more of that type of things, but products and services
from skilled people, be it art works, rentals, guides, different vacation packages, photograhy tours, entertainment (music, comedy) etc. The point is to promote a new perception of how we view value in the places we live, and the things we do.

Newfoundland and Labrador is a massive area of beauty, and for many foreign tourists, it can also be seen as, exciting, exotic, clean, innocent, and idealogical place to vacation, and to do business. I'll bet that many who leave home may be able to look back on their towns as having potential to draw tourists to see its beauty, perhaps be part of a cultural event, e.g., concerts, plays, berry fests, hiking scenic vantage points, historic re-enactments. We have a rich heritage and history, and we should remind ourselves that it is valuable, and outsiders may also find our province
interesting.

There is no easy solution for NL's economic challenges. However, the current William's government, with the Blue Book guide, sounds like a sound approach, though whether the job & business initiatives are followed up on is
another matter. There very well may have been some overlap in programs to facilitate business, IT, etc. from previous governments, but the idea of promoting diversity in the economy is the best avenue for sustained economic development in NL & Labrador. We also have to learn what succeeds in places like Iceland, and listen to long-term advice about how we can best take advantage of economic opportunities. We need to continually educate ourselves about the world, what it needs, what it wants, and how our province can match those needs and wants. Hopefully, much of the talent and skill we export can be re-patriated to benefit our province. One industry of opportunity where geography does not matter so much is the IT sector. One can for example, do a software training session with a client in Texas, or a website for anyone in the world.

Many people take where they live for granted. But the geography, culture, and traditions may be very appealing to say, Japanese tourists. Just the broad expanse of land itself is a wonder to many from countries where land is a rare luxury. Just as a country on the other side of the world is seen by us as being exotic, we can be appealling to those same countries and seen to be "exotic". Our mindsets needs to view our province and communities that way. The Hibernia & Terra Nova oilfields are great discoveries to help our economy, but they and other mega projects will probably not reverse the outmigration flow, overnight. Our population is declining, especially since the 1993 cod moratorium. Outmigration peaked in 1996-97/ & 1997/98 but is still high - 11,882 in 2004/2005, and will continue for many years. Though the NL Statistics Agency projects a continuous population decline for at least the next decade, the rate can be slowed the more our economy diversifies. Even oil rich Alberta couldn't depend solely on oil revenue in the 80's, when the recession hit and oil prices dropped. Don Getty emphasized economic diversification in high technology, tourism, and forestry. Hopefully we will be hearing more about non-mega project business promotion and development to help keep our most valued resource, our people, here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

18 comments:

MrChills said...

Great article!!!

Although spending has gone up this year on tourism, we have a LONG way to go in promoting our Province to the outside world.

I spent the first 21 years of my life living in Newfoundland, and like most people took its beauty and uniquness for granted. It wasn't till I left for many years and returned did I truly apprecaite how amazing it truly is.

kodak said...

Thanks mrchills, and you're right that we have a long way to go, because we have alot of potential to promote. Regarding tourism itself, there are so many beautiful coves, cliffs, beaches, harbours, inlets, etc. that many Newfoundlanders don't even know about. Personally I would like to take a three week boat tour around our costline. I am not sure if someone is still offering this, but a couple of summers ago, at least one boat tour did that.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Knew a chinese guy who wanted to know where he could get some grass seed like we have here because it seemed to grow so much better. Truth was so many people walked on their grass it never had a chance to grow.
We really do take our freedoms, lifestyle and enviroment for granted.

Great piece! I couldn't agree more about your main topic diversification being the key to NL's future.

Mega projects may be nice but the reality is they actually type cast our work force and in doing so seal their fate to outmigration.

Every culture or country that ever was or will be did it through their youth. Once your youth leave chances are they are gone for ever due to circumstances of living Marrying buying land good job etc. If we can just keep our youth until they get set for life then they can outside jobs and are pretty much guarnateed to return to where they kids are going to school house and family are.

I was in Alberta from 1993-97 and it wasn't all coming up roses. They went through alot of hard times big cuts to Health care and government services and departments. Most welfare cases moved out of the province to BC because of the cuts to the Provincial social network. So don't think Alberta is where it is because of all oil they cut to the bone and into the bone in some cases and deserve every good thing they get IMHO for their diligence, hard work and belt tightening.

WJM said...

No matter what the causes or possible solutions are for NL's chronic high unemployment... 1000's of families in Newfoundland & Labrador ... The good side of the story is that they are like 1000's of other Newfoundlanders who leave NL each year,... In that regard it is great to see Newfoundlander & Labradorians... Newfoundland's economy is diversified, ... From 5000 - 9000+ leave the province each year. There have been strategic economic plans for the province,

You keep switching back and forth between references to the province as a whole ("Newfoundland and Labrador", "NL") and just to Newfoundland.

Why?

comparisons to successful Iceland,

What comparisons?

What is the Icelandic equivalent of Labrador?

like the energy bill from the Newfoundland government.

Newfoundland has its own government now?

What about Labrador?

However, the current William's government, with the Blue Book guide,

The Blue Book is a joke.

Danny Williams hasn't cared about it since the day after the 2003 election; why should anyone else? Well, other to rhyme off the litany of broken promises and blatant lies?

Hopefully we will be hearing more about non-mega project business promotion and development to help keep our most valued resource, our people, here in Newfoundland.

If you are so concerned about Newfoundland, why raise the Lower Churchill? Last I checked, it wasn't in Newfoundland at all.

BNB said...

Hey Kodak, Great article. Sorry to hear about your family moving away but I share your mixed feelings for sure. I wish them all the best.

I see WJM has hit your blog. His affinity for Labrador lies more in it being a part of Canada and not at all about it being a part of Newfoundland and Labrador. WJM is a federal worker from Labrador who somehow feels that any show of N&L pride is a kick in his crotch.

Trust me when I say that it doesn't pay to entertain his comments. I've described him as the child who comes back with "but why?" for any comment that you might present him with.

I'd hate to know that all federal positions are as ripe with free time as his.

kodak said...

That sounds like wise advice bnb. WJM is certainly very sensitive about the mention or non-mention of the word Labrador. As you, others and I realize, people use abbreviated terms or acronyms for word efficiency, all the time. I was going to elaborate more in a separate response but I'll take your advice on this one, and not.

kodak said...

Interesting comments Ex-pat, on the Alberta recent past. Hard to believe when you look at it today, that Albertans had to take those measures not so long ago. No wonder they oppose the Kyoto Accord, if wind power, solar, ethanol fuel developed more, I wonder how Alberta would react again.
Youth leaving is a problem for sure. I think as an exercise that communities could all do a SWOT assessment - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, & threats, regarding their town or region, and brain storm ideas or possibilities for developments. Could trigger some youth to run with an idea.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Well put reference WJM BnB, couldn't have done it better myself.
There are dark forces at work against NL we need to stand together to weather these naysayers with hidden agendas.
There is an awesome org for our youth to propel NL forward
http://www.youthventuresnl.com/

Personally I think Labrador is the future of our province as a whole especially NFLD.
Be back latter gotta go.
eep up great work Kodak your doing a great service to the people of NL.

WJM said...

His affinity for Labrador lies more in it being a part of Canada and not at all about it being a part of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I'm not the one who excludes Labrador from mention in a provincial context; who repeatedly refers to the province, incorrectly, as "Newfoundland" or "island", etc.

WJM is a federal worker from Labrador who somehow feels that any show of N&L pride is a kick in his crotch.

No, any show of Newfoundland-is-an-island-unless-it's-convenient-to-include-Labrador is a kick to Labrador.

Why is it so hard for Newfoundlanders, especially nationalist Newfoundlanders, to include Labrador in their mindset, other than to "own" it?

kodak said...

WJM, there is no need to think that just because one doesn't always use the word Labrador in reference to the province, is either only using it when convenient, or is somehow snubbing Labrador. On the contrary, rather than only use the word Newfoundland, or NL, I use Newfoundland & Labrador, as a reminder that it is part of this province.

There is no need to be feel slighted here - you're resonding to someone who is proud of Labrador, its beauty and its peoples. I have just started to read some of your own blog site on Labrador, and can appreciate your overall frustration. I can't speak for all "islanders" but some of our fellow bloggers feel as I do towards Labrador, that is, Labrador should get a fairer share of benefits from developments, perhaps more political representation becuase of its large geography, more infrastructure work, etc. Personally I am all for Labradorians voicing their concerns, demands, ideas, arguments, and for a fairer deal. I will probably be reading more about this. But in the meantime, please do not take offence to simply referencing our province as NL, or Newfoundland, to me, depending on the context, these terms are interchangeable.

I would like to learn more of your concerns for this part of the province, so feel free to point me to a particular article(s) to learn more.

BNB said...

I'm in complete agreement Kodak. I make an effort to use the full and proper name of the province but I am an old dog and new tricks don't come easy. Whenever I say Newfoundland in my own mind Labrador is included and I hope my readers understand that.

newfoundlandincanada was named for the province's name upon joining Canada - no disrespect to Labrador meant.

I sincerely feel that most of the things we complain about regarding our place in Canada is hypocritical when considering Labrador's place in Newfoundland. The feeling that Labrador is the province's saviour with Voisey's Bay, IOC, Wabush... some of the richest resources in the world, a place where former US president's go for their retreat. It is nothing short of a global treasure.

That being said WJM is a different mindset. I'll repeat the statement that His affinity for Labrador lies more in it being a part of Canada and not at all about it being a part of Newfoundland and Labrador. My issue with him is that he feels Newfoundland and Labrador pride excludes Labrador and excludes Canada.

What he calls "Nationalist Newfoundlanders" are a group of people with a range of feelings on N&L in Canada. The overwhelming sentiment that I hear and read is that we are looking for "our place in Canada".

My father was born a Newfoundlander. I was born a Canadian. If I can influence anyone in my years on this earth N&L will see a better place in Canada. Labrador will enjoy a better place in Newfoundland and Labrador and I will die a proud Canadian.

WJM said...

WJM, there is no need to think that just because one doesn't always use the word Labrador in reference to the province, is either only using it when convenient, or is somehow snubbing Labrador.

Yes, there is.

What other reason is there for doing so?

On the contrary, rather than only use the word Newfoundland, or NL, I use Newfoundland & Labrador, as a reminder that it is part of this province.

You don't do so consistently:

NL's chronic high unemployment... families in Newfoundland & Labrador experience... Newfoundlanders who leave NL each year... Newfoundland's economy is diversified... to not just Newfoundland consumers... Newfoundland is a massive area of beauty... may also find our province... Newfoundland's economic challenges... NL & Labrador.

["NL" stands for "Newfoundland and Labrador", not "Newfoundland". What do you think the "L" means? "NL & Labrador" means "Newfoundland and Labrador and Labrador"!]

benefit our province... here in Newfoundland.

There is no need to be feel slighted here - you're resonding to someone who is proud of Labrador, its beauty and its peoples.

Spoken like a true Newfoundlander.

I have just started to read some of your own blog site on Labrador, and can appreciate your overall frustration. I can't speak for all "islanders"

Prince Edward Islanders?

But in the meantime, please do not take offence to simply referencing our province as NL,

God, how chauvinistic are Newfoundlanders to think that the new PROVINCIAL abbreviation, NL, applies to Newfoundland only?

NL IS THE ABBREVIATION FOR NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR.

or Newfoundland, to me, depending on the context, these terms are interchangeable.

What terms?

WJM said...

newfoundlandincanada was named for the province's name upon joining Canada - no disrespect to Labrador meant.

None taken: your site consists of Newfoundland nationalist sentiment that don't have much traction in Labrador.

That being said WJM is a different mindset. I'll repeat the statement that His affinity for Labrador lies more in it being a part of Canada

I love that Labrador is part of Canada; what's wrong with that?

My issue with him is that he feels Newfoundland and Labrador pride excludes Labrador and excludes Canada.

No, I feel that Newfoundland nationalism is (a) hostile to the aspirations of Labrador, and (b) exlusionary towards Labrador except in the sense of what Newfoundland can benefit by "owning" Labrador.

What he calls "Nationalist Newfoundlanders" are a group of people with a range of feelings on N&L in Canada. The overwhelming sentiment that I hear and read is that we are looking for "our place in Canada".

I've already found it. Labrador belongs in Canada; most people in Labrador felt that way 150 years ago when Newfoundlanders were singing that silly "Anti-Confederation Song".

kodak said...

Yes I am aware that NL stands for Newfoundland & Labrador, as it was officially changed in 2001 to recognize the new name of the province. Just as MUN, Memorial, or Memorial University of Newfoundland uses these expressions regularly on various pages of their web site (I'm guessing that a sore point too), I use different words to reference our province. It is more efficient to read it, write it, and less repetitious than using the same long name.

Anyway rather than waste time talking blog political correctness, why don't you suggest a good read pertaining to Labrador?

WJM said...

Yes I am aware that NL stands for Newfoundland & Labrador,

Then why do you use it as if it stands for Newfoundland? You don't seem very aware at all!

as it was officially changed in 2001 to recognize the new name of the province. Just as MUN, Memorial, or Memorial University of Newfoundland uses these expressions regularly on various pages of their web site (I'm guessing that a sore point too),

Not at all. The university's in Newfoundland, isn't it?

I use different words to reference our province.

Using the word "Newfoundland" to reference the province is wrong. The province isn't Newfoundland, and Newfoundland isn't the province.

It is more efficient to read it, write it, and less repetitious than using the same long name.

In other words, then, you were not being truthful when you said "On the contrary, rather than only use the word Newfoundland, or NL, I use Newfoundland & Labrador, as a reminder that it is part of this province."

(And there you go again, using "NL" as if it is the abbreviation for "Newfoundland". Aware?)

Anyway rather than waste time talking blog political correctness, why don't you suggest a good read pertaining to Labrador?

Lynn Fitzhugh, The Labradorians.

BNB said...

WJM do they still publish "Them Days" I used to get those years ago haven't seen them in a while but they were a great piece of Labrador Literature.

Also forgive my ignorance of Labrador, unfortunately I've never been there and don't have a lot of context to write about it.

I'm refocusing newfoundlandandlabrador.blogspot.com which used to have some election and political articles to be a place for art and photography of Newfoundland and Labrador. I'd appreciate any photos and art of labrador you can send - along with a little blurb about the context. The site will turn into art of St. John's and Central Newfoundland if I only use what I have myself.

Send them to tdbreen@yahoo.ca - nothing there now but I have some good stuff to put up in the near future. (Sorry Kodak for posting this on your blog but I don't have WJM's e-mail address from his blog)

kodak said...

no problemo bnb, post away anytime.

WJM said...

WJM do they still publish "Them Days" I used to get those years ago haven't seen them in a while but they were a great piece of Labrador Literature.

Yes.

www.themdays.com