Monday, December 23, 2013

Dis·in·gen·u·ous — [dis-in-jen-yoo-uhs]

Vancouver Sun Editorial Board Considers the Issues
Earlier this month, the Vancouver Sun published an editorial titled, BC Jobs Plan figures don’t signal success or failure yet. In case you fail to understand that titular assertion, a sub-heading adds "it’s premature to declare jobs plan a bust."

I understand Postmedia editors are working on another piece explaining that it's also too soon to determine if Bernie Madoff's $50 billion fund will meet its investors' long term goals.

In an effort to deflect potential critics of the Liberals' BC Jobs Plan, the newspaper suggests readers dig a little deeper into jobs data because headlines "don't tell the whole story." After my first paragraph, how could I argue that?

However, the Sun ignores its own suggestion and makes no constructive effort to dig into anything. Instead, it implies that declining employment numbers are not a bad thing if fewer public servants are on the job. The editorial also provides this sophism, "Besides, unemployment across B.C. was not uniform." They could have added that not all families in the province have unemployed members and not all families suffer economic deprivation. That might be true, but how would it be related to this costly program?

In fiscal 2012, $33.4 million was allocated for the BC government's discretionary advertising and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training was the biggest spender. Undoubtedly, the bill for misleading and politically partisan communications related to the BC Jobs Plan has grown substantially in the last 21 months.

Postmedia claims we don't know if the job creation program is a success or failure. They are disingenuous.

The employment rate is the percentage of residents doing paid work. During the 26 month term of the BC Jobs Plan, British Columbia ranks last among ten provinces in the rate of change in this vital statistic. The decline in percentage of people employed is double that in Manitoba, the ninth ranked.

This is another view of the numbers:

In its 24-Month Progress Report, the government claims 44,900 jobs created. According to Statistics Canada CANSIM 282-0087, the number of jobs created during the term of the BC Jobs Plan, to November 2013, is 1,800, about 1/25 of the number promoted by BC Liberals.

Considering the Ministry of Jobs, Training and Tourism spent about $400 million during the term of this controversial program, it seems not too soon to judge its success or failure.

* * * * *
Reading through the government's long promotion of the BC Jobs Plan, I was struck by the complete disregard for developing economic activity by stimulating consumer demand. The vast majority of people in the province are faced with stagnant wages but steadily rising costs of living. The largest businesses in this province are doing well; commodity prices are strong, taxation is down, land development is unrestrained, environmental and other regulations are disarmed and executive salaries are not restrained.

Times are good for the lucky ones but the vast majority are crippled by declining disposable income. As the centrist Brooking Institute declared,
"The immediate problem facing the economy is weak demand. Recovery is under way, but it continues to be slow and it could falter..."
British Columbia's provincial government is not interested in creation of jobs for ordinary citizens. It aims to advance the interests of a much more select group of citizens. As noted in comments below, the Washington Group is not working to train tradespeople to build ships, its Seapan division is in England looking to recruit foreign workers. None of us should be surprised.

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  1. Jobs ... but not for unemployed Canadians.

  2. From the Portsmouth News in the UK:

    "Seaspan is a Canadian shipbuilding firm which has recently been given a contract to build [some of] 17 ships for the Canadian Navy.

    "Now they need skilled workers to move to Vancouver and help build the vessels – and they have got their eye on Portsmouth workers."

  3. It seems that there are stories in the news media on a regular basis of a few hundred jobs here and a few hundred jobs there lost due to "business decisions" and nothing is ever said about how these precious incomes are going to be replaced. The political meme about focus on the jobs-and-economy that harper created out of thin air after the shocking meltdown of '08 has been recycled by Clark in BC misses the most important part of economic stability; the ability of the consumer to create demand. We should not be kidding ourselves that the growth in profits and EBITA is going to translate into hiring anytime soon. Most of those jobs being created out of thin air too will be exported overseas as it seems that we are getting really good at exporting jobs.

  4. According to my calculations, $33.4 million could have paid for 1336 workers at $100/day for a whole year (250 working days). They could have stood at major intersections and waved "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!" signs and created a big buzz. Better yet: get 2672 workers to do the job during four hours of heaviest traffic.

    Every cent the workers made would have been stirred right back into the economy — and Christy could have boasted about the great job-creation the BC Liberals were doing.

    (Tongue only partly in cheek.)

  5. Would partially agree, but I do question "BC employment as a percentage of population". A more precise analysis would be the familiar unemployment rate (unemployed as a % of employed population), since the overall BC population includes those who are not presently working because of age (0- to 16: 75-100). Plus those of working age who aren't working because they're students, those who are recent arrivals and yet to find employment. Then, there's the self employed and seasonal.

    And why not just post the original statistical graphs rather than constructing your own, which may be misleading if no source data is explicitly referenced.

    In regards to the Portsmouth workers, here may be merit, since there aren't enough skilled marine trades workers to meet the demand, and it takes several years to go through training and apprenticeships. The only solution is for the schools such as BCIT to open new seats, the marine trades unions should swing open the doors for apprenticeships, with co-operation from Seaspan.

    The contract for the vessels need to move along and since there's 20 years of work with most likely new contracts, now is the time for the marine trades to move ahead.

    1. There are potential defects in most methods of measuring employment but those defects stay consistent in the short term. So, for measurement of a high cost program that claims to focus on job creation, this is a good measure. There is no sudden change in people unavailable for work. BC did not suddenly become loaded with pre-pubescent youth or aged people.

      What this illustration does though is remove the bias of traditional participation rates that ignore people who've withdrawn from the workforce because jobs they are capable of performing seem unavailable. For example, I hear from BC residents experienced in trades who are unable to get work because their previous jobs have been filled by temporary foreign workers.

      "And why not just post the original statistical graphs rather than constructing your own." A moronic statement.

      The StatsCanada data source is provided. You cannot dispute the data, so you dispute its presentation, which shows the weakness of your argument. You'd prefer I only showed graphical representations created and approved by well paid PR reps of the BC Liberal government.

      Thanks, but no thanks. My name is not Keith and I don't work for Global TV.

    2. Hi Norm,

      this post from anonymous looks as if it could have come from the PAB.

      "In regards to the Portsmouth workers, here may be merit, since there aren't enough skilled marine trades workers to meet the demand.

      In the construction of shipping there are many trades that are not marine specific: Metal Fabricators, Welders, Boilermakers, Millwrights, Crane operators, Steam and pipe fitters, refrigeration mechanics, machinists, joiners, - you get the idea. All of these trades are used in many different types of industries, all have a comprehensive knowledge of their trade and adapt to the particular circumstance of the workplace, through additional training or testing if required, it happens in every industry. Marine is no different.

      "The only solution is for the schools such as BCIT to open new seats, the marine trades unions should swing open the doors for apprenticeships, with co-operation from Seaspan.

      BCIT. to open new seats? for what and for whom.?

      Kwantlen, Northern Lights, Camosun, VIU. North Island College, New Caledonia et. al. have the capacity and turn out grads. in many of the required trades, but as the previous CEO of the Industry Training Authority stated on voice of B.C.(paraphrasing) there are not enough employers hiring apprentices from these programmes. This is from the head of the organisation set up by the liberals (after wrecking the previous model that was working quite nicely), run by a board of liberal friendly appointees for the employers. Don't take too much notice of their numbers.
      the marine trades unions should swing open the doors for apprenticeships, with co-operation from Seaspan.

      Unions of all types promote apprenticeship training, but as we have seen over the past liberal administrations, unions are a dirty word and have been actively excluded from many projects that have been undertaken. Problem is, if the union or any employer doesn't have the work they can't swing any door open. If local marine companies with their workers had constructed the German built ferries financed @ 10%, it wouldn't be time for "the marine trades to move ahead" they would already be most of the way there.

      There are trades involved in shipbuilding that are specific to that industry and warships in particular, but to say that we don't have the people here that are unable to accomplish much of the work is less than realistic. Esquimalt Naval Dockyard and associated companies manage to maintain Canadian Navy vessels and rebuild the odd rent a wreck submarine from time to time? But none of us are that naïve to believe that is a consideration.

      As a disclaimer I have spent many years in trade training in England and B.C. and my family is from Portsmouth.

      Apologies if I have ranted on too much.

    3. "The StatsCanada you cited, on the first page of the data presented is national, not provincial... "

      (The remainder of this contribution is deleted because information submitted is false and therefore worthless in this or any debate. CANSIM 282-0087 is a comprehensive data set that provides national and provincial information. Reports are easily modified using the 'Add/remove data' option.)

  6. "Thanks, but no thanks. My name is not Keith and I don't work for Global TV."

    As Montgomery Burns would say, boney hands clasped together......."Excellent!"

  7. You're right, Norm. I am a moron, That's why I don't want to use my real name.

  8. Check this site for an interesting story.

  9. It appears that that the BC Libs are, joining the rest of the "neocon movement", and engaging in the continued destruction of the "middle class" by outsourcing jobs to foreign interests.

    The loss of jobs in this province due to lack of political foresight, planning and ongoing strategic initiatives to create skilled and properly trained workers for a growing economy, used to be a coordinated effort in this province and indeed this country. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

    Opportunism and profits, now are the defining issues for politicians, not public service , community growth, and moving the country as a whole forward. The politics of greed, has taken over.

    What's left of the middle class in this country is fast disappearing, well paying jobs, careers and opportunities are being taken away from Canadians, and handed to offshore workers, who because of their governments foresight and planning, prepared their workforces for the current job markets in their own countries, in addition to other foreign countries.

    We are at the mercy of politicians who have a very narrow vision in this country. Greed is "not" good on a provincial or national scale. The inability of our leaders both in governance and business to articulate a national jobs and industrial strategy over the
    past 20 years, that would have forseen the coming economic malaise and opportunities, even on a minor scale, is extremely apparent. The obvious conclusion, is an agenda, that is not in the "public" intrest at all.

    Sooner or later the public as a whole must wake up to the fact, that governance in this country, has had its agenda set for it by a select few, and special intrest "groups", that see the public as a hindrance to their overall goals.....



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