January 17, 2008
Federal Presence Still Not Enough
The Provincial Government reiterated its call today for the Federal Government to increase its presence in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Our position continues to be that this province does not have its fair share of Federal Government decision makers and employees based in this province," said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. "This is a priority of our government and I will continue to raise this with our federal colleagues."
Minister Hedderson is responding to the announcement today by the Honourable Gordon O'Connor, Minister of National Revenue, of the official opening of a new call centre for the Canada Revenue Agency. Open since December 1, 2007, this call centre is expected to employ 430 people. The jobs announced today by Minister O�Connor are a step in the right direction, along with the re-opening of the Gander Weather Office.
Unfortunately there are still promises not fulfilled. During the January 2006 federal election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke favourably of increasing federal presence in Newfoundland and Labrador. Prime Minister Harper stated, "I think the secret will be to identify particular functions and operations that should be here, as opposed to putting a few jobs here and a few jobs there. There should be some specific things that are headquartered here."
During and since the federal election, the Federal Government has made and reaffirmed plans for 5 Wing Goose Bay in the context of its new operational requirements to protect Canadian sovereignty and security. Those plans are for a new rapid reaction army battalion composed of 650 regular force personnel and a new long-range unstaffed aerial vehicle squadron, with an accompanying 100 regular force personnel. At CFS St. John�s, there was a plan to establish a new Territorial Defence Battalion composed of approximately 100 regular force and 400 reserve force personnel to assist the Federal and Provincial Governments in countering threats to our security, as well as responding to natural disasters. None of these commitments have been fulfilled by Prime Minister Harper�s government.
In addition to the commitments made by the Harper government, according to a study done by Memorial University Harris Centre, there is evidence of a disproportional decrease in federal presence in Newfoundland and Labrador. During the 1980s and 1990s, there was a 25 per cent decrease in federal jobs in this province, compared to the approximate five per cent national decrease. The number of people employed by the federal government in this province has fallen substantially, from approximately 10,250 in 1993 to 6,970 in 2004. In contrast, a study by Statistics Canada reported that the number of people who work for the "core public administration" in the national capital region, which includes Ottawa, Gatineau and surrounding areas, grew by 20 per cent between 1995 and 2006, an additional 12,800 jobs. Furthermore, federal employment in the category fell 5.6 per cent nationally during the same period, shrinking by more than 10,000 to just under 178,000.
"Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest number of federal executive employees in the country," added Minister Hedderson. "There are no regional headquarters in this province other than those areas in which the province itself is considered a region, such as DFO and ACOA. This has to change and there has to be an increase in these executive positions and regional headquarters offices in this province. We want to ensure that we have located in our province our fair share of the decision makers and executive positions that influence the development of federal policies and programs."
2008 01 17 3:10 p.m.
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