Friday, September 23, 2011

Nanaimo's Jobless Get National Focus

Globe and Mail Article Highlights
Nanaimo's High Unemployment

This article in the Globe and Mail makes the point that the Premier's 'Canada Starts Here' job creation program offers little for Nanaimo's jobless to get excited about. Local social activist Gord Fuller is quoted as saying the 7 - 10 Club provided a hot meal and bag lunch for nearly 400 people each day this past week.

Local unemployed 31 year sawmill worker Mr. John Little has retrained in Web design, computers and cooking and has only had 14 days of work in the past 23 months.  He sees little to be hopeful about in Nanaimo and expects to move to Alberta when he becomes eligible for severance.

Mayor Ruttan and MLA Krog have both taken exception to remarks made by Liberal parliamentary secretary, that perhaps some people should consider relocating to where the jobs are if their prospects in Nanaimo are not all that attractive. While both the Mayor and MLA are expected to try and make political points, the advice to move to where the jobs are seems like quite a sensible one. To my understanding that has always been the way in our great country, and particularly in the area of construction. People simply go to where the work is, which was the case in Nanaimo during our construction boom days.

As much as I am a member of the Nanaimo Cheering Club; we need to face the reality that without decent paying jobs to come to young families will have to buy their new home someplace else. It would seem the only immigration that will boost our construction sector will be people in the position of being able to retire and therefore not have to rely on local employment.

As I have noted before, Nanaimo really has to make up it's mind what kind of a centre it is. It has several things that it 'kinda' is but nothing really clear about what it is overall. While we are a nice place to visit and spend some time, we are hardly a vacation destination. While we do have some industry there is nothing massive on the scale of southern Ontario. We have no local area resources that pay the freight like they used to, such as forestry or fishing or mining. Our position as being the best retail location on the Island has been eroding over the past years as Duncan to the south, and Comox to the north have attracted major retailers.

We are a lovely part of the world in which to live, we have excellent health care facilities, easy transportation to Vancouver via ferry or air, a first class convention facility, a university, excellent recreation facilities of all kinds. Unfortunately what we are lacking is the engine that will create better paying jobs to attract and keep young families. Perhaps, we need to just accept that and fashion ourselves as a retirement mecca and develop facilities that make us more of a tourist destination rather than a place to pass through on the way someplace else.


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