Crossposted to tvo.org. Today’s question: “Ontario’s manufacturing sector has lost thousands of jobs over the past few years. How much can the provincial government really do to stop the exodus of manufacturing jobs?” (400 word limit.)
I like the wording of this question, since I do believe it’s a bit disingenuous for political parties to say “we created X number of jobs,” or, “they lost Y number of jobs” over a short timeline. That being said, in the long run, there is much that government can do to create the right conditions for a healthy, thriving economy, including manufacturing and related industries.
I think, on a macro level, that the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario is a symptom of a shifting global economy. These industries are being squeezed by higher operating costs and increased international competition on the one hand, and the fact that value-added jobs are too often the exclusive domain of other jurisdictions on the other.
The Ontario government does not have the power to single-handedly reverse these global economic realities. Therefore, fighting against them (trying to artificially maintain the status quo at all costs) is a failing proposition. We do, however, have the ability to create new opportunities in the manufacturing sector and in the North, and to smartly adapt to global change, both economic and climate (which will disproportionately affect the North).
The Green party’s election platform explains that, realistically, “the North must diversify its economy to retain its workforce and standard of living. It could do so through an aggressive pursuit of secondary and tertiary manufacturing opportunities to create ‘value added’ products, and by capitalizing on the tourism opportunities that lie in its inherent natural beauty.”
Specifically, the Green Party of Ontario would:
- Establish a sustainable business development program for northern and rural communities by investing $1 billion over four years to encourage green business investment and job creation
- Invest $11.5 million over four years to alleviate labour shortages, especially in the skilled trades
- Inject $180 million into economic development initiatives [for the North]
There are, of course, more details and specifics in the platform [pdf], specifically pages 6-9 (according to the printed numbering, not the PDF’s numbering).