Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sinking like a rock

While the small community I originally come from, along with many other communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, watches its population get decimated by people leaving in droves for work in Alberta, on the other end they have to find places for all these people to live. With massive FPI layoffs recently announced on the Burin Peninsula, the closure of the mill in Stephenville, and the lack of any kind of increase in the cod stocks off our shores, this outmigration will continue. It's been going on for years, I know, but until recently my community hasn't been too affected and now it's becoming a near ghost town populated by mostly elderly citizens. Even Air Canada added express flights for those leaving The Rock for The Oil Sands.

Everyone keeps looking to the government for some kind of saving grace, some way to stop this haemorrhaging of our population but I have to wonder how much they can do about it. Make-work programs are more of a bandage than anything, and forcing FPI to lose money in small towns in Newfoundland is a futile thing. Tourism is a good moneymaker but we can only kowtow to our stereotypes for mainlanders for so long and only have so many such enterprises. How many old time kitchen parties and quaint B&Bs can one tourism industry support? The only answer is for individuals to come up with innovative, entrepreneurial ideas and start businesses which can create employment. Since the numbers of our population don’t support such businesses, we have to think of business ideas that can translate to exports, sales on the web, and the like. Unfortunately, many of the people leaving the fish plants and mills are not trained in these high-tech areas and probably are not interested in such training. We saw how the retraining worked (or didn't) when the cod moratorium was first announced.

I don't know what the answers to these problems are. I fear there is not much that can be done at this point and that makes me so goddamn sad. The next generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have to become innovative and find ways to make Newfoundland like Ireland (as we all thought was going to happen a few years ago), to make it a vibrant, cutting-edge, technologically savvy province where the only limits on what we can do are our imaginations and our bandwidth. I only hope there’s enough of the next generation left around to pick up the pieces.

1 Comments:

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Robert said...

I agree we need innovation and industry...personal industry -- people need to get out and just 'do'. I don't think we can look to Ireland as any sort of model as was the hope. Our circumstances are pretty different. Newfoundland can't avail of the same kind of international market and trade that the EU can provide and Dublin, Ireland ois much more 'on the map' than Newfoundland.

We are, despite similarities in our accent, going to have to take a different approach to economic salvation.

 

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