Leaving home

Published on August 18, 2014

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.