"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Boy, that Jerome! Kennedy sure is getting a lot of press releases lately.

Today's edition of the Jerome! Report is trumpeting the latest population statistics:

Newfoundland and Labrador’s population has increased by 1,049 people from July to October 2008, representing the highest quarterly growth rate since 1991, according to Statistics Canada. The Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, said the province’s population has increased in four of the past five quarters.

"I am pleased that our province’s population has increased again this quarter as a result of significant net in-migration of 1,070 people which offset a natural decline," said Minister Kennedy. "Quarterly net-migration reached its highest level in 37 years and remained positive for the fifth consecutive quarter."

The province’s population was 508,944 as of October 1, 2008, representing an increase of 1,049 people (or 0.2 per cent) from the previous quarter. Net gains were recorded in both inter-provincial and international migrants.

"Continued population growth for the province is significant news," said Minister Kennedy. "We are seeing people moving to Newfoundland and Labrador, from other provinces and from elsewhere in the world. This demonstrates the confidence that individuals have in Newfoundland and Labrador, our strong economic position, and in making it their home."
Three quickies:

First: The highest quarterly growth rate since 1991? In other words, since the last major recession (or is it a depression?), just as this corner speculated about this time last year. As much as this corner likes to be right, this is not a great thing to be right about.

Second: Natural decline? Once again, old news in this neighbourhood. And it's about to get much worse, as the baby-boom population, both those who never left, and those who are retiring home, start dying off in larger numbers than they already are.

Even if the Progressive Conservative Family Benefit changes the birth side of the natural population equation — which it won't, but that won't stop Danny Williams-Government from crediting his NeoBabyBonus for an already-happening levelling off in the rate of decline — the impending Decades of Death are going to make it impossible for the provincial population to reach Our Dear Population Target of a million people.

Third: in-migration is not being driven by "confidence" or "our strong economic position". Has Jerome! been to the outports, mine towns, or mill towns lately? It is being driven in part by economic migrants who are returning home to friends and family after work and business opportunities in other provinces dried up, and in the other part by the declining incentives in other provinces. Other provinces are experiencing repulsive out-migration, while NL sees a decline in repulsion without any great increase in attraction.

And, with mills shutting down, mines slowing down, imaginary projects like a refinery or the so-called Lower Churchill going nowhere fast, and a timetable for Hebron that no one believed on the day it was announced, let alone under the more recent economic circumstances, the construction workers who are coming home better hope that there'll be lots of work coming their way from the other thing driving in-migration: people who moved to other provinces from rural communities, spent a lifetime and a career, and are now returning "home" — to new construction, reno jobs, and, eventually, yet-to-be-built long-term care facilities in greater St. John's.


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