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Recent numbers from Statistics Canada show that people are still leaving the Atlantic region. Except for tiny P.E.I., the other three provinces had population declines when compared with 2012.

Having residents heading out for work and a more stable working life is nothing new for Newfoundland and Labrador; it’s been happening for centuries.

What is changing is that the birthrate is so low in this province there aren’t enough babies being born to make up for the loss of adults to other parts of the country. Even the little immigration we get here can’t turn the decline in population around.

There are serious consequences to a shrinking population.

The first involves money. Many federal programs are based on the population of the province and when the number of residents goes down, so does the amount of money that Ottawa sends this way. The loss of young people — and they are almost surely mostly young people leaving — leaves us short of workers to keep the province running.

With boomers retiring in droves, who will step in to keep our businesses open and services like health care up to par and properly serving our rapidly aging population?

The answers to stemming outmigration are difficult, if not impossible, to find. If there was an easy answer provinces in this region would have already implemented them.

The solution is providing permanent, well-paying jobs to our young parents so they will have to think twice before giving in to the lure of Alberta or Saskatchewan. But even as more and more workers retire, too many of these young workers aren’t stepping up to fill the void.

Is it that the pay and working conditions don’t meet their higher expectations than their parents?

If there is a magic solution — it had better come soon. Time is quickly running out as the Statistics Canada numbers show all too clearly.

Organizations: Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Atlantic, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa Alberta Saskatchewan

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Recent comments

  • Pauline
    August 20, 2014 - 16:21

    Yes the pay and working conditions don't meet their higher expectation than their parents! Along with the cost of importing goods to our Island. Bare necessities are much higher than what people pay on the mainland. It is a blessing for our Mi'Kmaq people to come out of hiding. They have great opportunities to build their own future with our heritage. Promote our native culture.

  • Trevor
    August 18, 2014 - 08:54

    The answer is not difficult: our education system continues to promote skilled trades because of a perceived shortage of trades workers, but it's a false truth. There is little work in the trades here, so young men (mostly) and women go to CNA then off to Fort Mac. The only trades work here is in short term mega projects that don't take apprentices in large numbers or long enough term for them to set down roots. We need to be promoting business and entrepreneurship to our high school students, then we will see them identifying needs in their hometowns and searching for ways to meet demands and spurring growth. You don't get that by graduating 250 heavy equipment operators every year.