The Difference Between a Bust and a Boom

I have been known to argue that the Saskatchewan “boom” is all a figment of Saskatchewan Party’s Premier Brad Wall and his cronies at the Chamber of Commerce’s imagination. You don’t see it on the street, thousands of university student can’t find summer employment and much of small town Saskatchewan has a depression era look to it.

How the politicians and the media characterize boom or bust, the winners, losers or the also ran in our economy, for me at least always has had a bit of Alice and Wonderland to it.

For example, these days, if we are to pick the big loser in the Canadian economy, listening to the media at least, most of us would say Ontario. The manufacturing sector, the backbone of Ontario’s economy is having a tough time. The high Canadian dollar has put the boots to competitiveness in exports.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is being figuratively burned at the stakes in the Globe & Mail, western newspapers and on the CBC for his comments about “Dutch Disease”. He has had the temerity to ask why unchecked tar sands exploitation is so good for Canada when it forces the value of the Canadian dollar even higher, hurting those who produce goods for export, most of them situated in Ontario.

This we are told has turned Ontario into a “have not” province.

The other side of the coin, we are told is, Saskatchewan. Brad Wall’s favorite two words are innovation and of course, “Boom! Boom! Boom!”
Potash is hot! 
National Post Graphic
  • Mining is hot! 
  • Gas is hot! 
  • Oil is hotter! 
Newfoundlanders are commuting from “The Rock” to fill vacant jobs. Temporary foreign workers scattered all around the province are driving our trucks, welding in small manufacturing operations, building our homes and working in our fast food joints. What is not to like?

Not so fast. New Statistics Canada figures tell us a slightly different story.

If we take a look at the “percentage of the population claiming Employment Insurance benefits”:
  • Our poor cousins in Ontario come in at 4.41% 
  • Powerhouse Saskatchewan is only slightly less at 4.28% 
For those who are mathematically challenged, the figures are just a bit above one tenth of one percent apart.

Is this how we define the difference between a boom and a bust?

Isn't it time we started paying attention?

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