On 4 July 2006, John Ibbitson’s column in The Globe and Mail centred on a pending national labour shortage. He called it “the largest public-policy challenge confronting Canada”. He suggested there is a need to retool the education system to meet the rising demand for skilled labour of all kinds. And he pointed out that governments aren’t answering the call, in fact he suggests they are doing the opposite:
And yet, perversely, federal and provincial governments consciously distort the labour market with policies guaranteed to worsen shortages by encouraging workers to be unproductive.
Equalization, for example, is supposed to help governments in poorer provinces provide services comparable to those in wealthier provinces. But a new study by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies reveals that equalization also helps poorer provinces sustain bloated bureaucracies filled with overpaid workers.
Prince Edward Island pays its provincial public servants a wage 31 per cent higher than the average industrial wage in that province, while Ontario’s bureaucrats only make a wage 23 per cent higher than average. Manitoba has 105 provincial and local public servants per 1,000 citizens; British Columbia has 76, and Ontario has 67.
The federal government does its bit to skew the economy in the wrong direction by tailoring Employment Insurance to permit season employment. A fish plant in Prince Edward Island has to recruit Russian and Ukrainian workers, even though unemployment on the Island sits at 11 per cent.