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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can St. John's take the hit?

Just where does the provincial government spend its money?

It's not easy to say. There is some guidance to be gained, perhaps, by analyzing the budget documents and government press releases. However, there is no single easy breakdown as to what gets spent where.

At least not publicly.

There has been at least some suggestion, however, that Dundergov has produced some attempt at quantification for internal consumption. As a government record, this will naturally be released under the Access to Information Act, promptly and without obfuscation, to anyone who applies for it.

Thus you have, for instance, the NewEnergy Party's platform claiming:
most of our infrastructure investments (in fact, 71% of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development investments) over the past eight years have been in rural areas
And NewEnergy Party representative Tom Marshall claiming before the St. John's Bored of Trade on Thursday:

One presumes Mr. Marshall is also able to quantify where provincial income tax, sales tax, mining royalties, federal transfer payments, and other sources of revenue end up being spent, given the remarkable ease with which he was able to say, with such certainty, where the oil money was distributed geographically.

With respect to at least one head of government spending, there is some indication as to where the money goes.

As of the twelve months ending in March 2011, the direct provincial civil service has increased in size by almost 22%, as compared to 2004, the Tories' first full year in office. The civil service payroll has increased by 59% during the same period.

There is no readily- and publicly-available data source that tells you where, geographically, you will find provincial civil servants. Perhaps it's also in Mr. Marshall's big book of handy statistics. However, scraping the provincial government employee directory, and sorting all listed civil servant telephone numbers by three-digit exchange, you find the following rough breakdown:

At least by this telephone-book method, two-thirds of the provincial civil service is housed in the St. John's dialling area. The next nine localities with the largest provincial civil-service presence account for most of the rest. All other communities have less than the 1% share the Deer Lake has, totalling 9.3% of all listed provgov employees. This is the civil service whose payroll is now $200-million a year more than it was in 2004.

(By way of contrast, the often-maligned "National Capital Region", for federal employment statistical purposes, has about 32% of the federal civil service as of September 2010.)

And remember, these figures are just for the direct provincial civil service. They do not include other aspects of the public sector, including the health system ($300-million increase since 2004), post-secondary education system ($130-million), or provincial crown corporations ($45-million).

Incidentally, that last class, crown corps, have collectively had their payrolls increase by over 60% during the same period. In that time, their total number of employees has increased by just 5%.

What's up with that?

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At 6:52 AM, September 29, 2011 , Blogger rod said...

Threre are three kinds of lies.


Damn Lies..

And Statistics.

At 10:51 AM, September 29, 2011 , Blogger WJM said...

If you are suggesting there is any "lie" in here, I'd strongly encourage you to elaborate.

At 1:58 PM, September 29, 2011 , Blogger Peter Jackson said...

What percentage of the Canadian population does the "national capital region" represent compared to the percentage of NL represented by the "provincial capital region"? Kind of important, no?

At 2:21 PM, September 29, 2011 , Blogger WJM said...

Somewhat important. But still: the NL provincial civil service is quite noticeably densely-concentrated.

At 3:03 PM, September 29, 2011 , Blogger rod said...

The lie I speak of is the arbitrary use of Statistics by Tom Marshall. He obviously pulled the number out of thin air....

At 5:28 PM, September 29, 2011 , Blogger Mark said...

Peter - wouldn't a more apples-to-apples comparison be Charlottetown, Victoria, Halifax, or Edmonton (i.e. capital cities with arguably the same sets of responsibilities)

At 5:38 PM, September 29, 2011 , Blogger WJM said...

Ah - gotcha, Rod.

Not the only stat he would have pulled out of the air, either! :)

At 8:55 AM, September 30, 2011 , Blogger Peter Jackson said...

Perhaps, but it was WJM's comparison, not mine.

At 11:30 PM, September 30, 2011 , Blogger Charlie said...

Good going on using "stat"ins to reduce clogging of the misleading articles! Interesting breakdown.


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