ABMInsider | Is NL doomed to perpetual poverty?

Published: Wed, 11/23/22

November 23, 2022

Dear ABMInsider,

Approximately two months ago, I was putting together the detailed editorial lineup for our January “Love Local” issue. I knew that our Readers Choice Awards and Best Places to Work would anchor the issue. To that I added a story about the history of banking in the region (did you know that Scotiabank, CIBC and RBC all have roots in Halifax?) and an article about the Work from Home phenomenon—and whether the trend will live on past the pandemic. There’s also a feature profile of Two Planks and a Passion, a 30-year-old theatre company that has built its success in a tech-free outdoor venue. And there are, of course, the usual departments and columns… food and entertainment are covered in After Hours; Let’s Do Launch features a different startup story each issue; Where are they Now talks to a Top 50 CEO Hall of Famer to see what they’ve been doing since their induction; and The Water Cooler provides short stories on topical issues.

The final topic I added to the lineup, and the subject of this week’s ABMInsider, was a detailed analysis of a local economy and its sustainability in a global context. I asked Dr. Wade Locke, recently retired economist with Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, to examine how the province’s past and present will impact its future. Ultimately, I wanted him to answer one simple question: could this place ever achieve sustainable prosperity?

Then, on November 17, the Fraser Institute published a report ranking Premier Andrew Furey as having the worst economic performance among all 10 premiers. They later followed up to say that his performance has improved since the data was gathered for their report, but I think both reports overlook a crucial point. The province’s debt is not the sole responsibility of any one individual; it’s been building for decades and Furey was sworn in as premier on August 19, 2020.

Clearly, the issue deserves a more extensive examination. And that’s why we decided to publish Dr. Locke’s report today as a web exclusive.

Here’s a few disturbing highlights:

“From 1980-81 to 2021-22, Newfoundland and Labrador incurred $8.0 billion more in fiscal deficits ($15 billion) than it generated in fiscal surpluses ($7.0 billion).”

“Surpluses of $430 million per annum for the next 30 years would be needed to bring Newfoundland and Labrador’s per capita debt down to $16,179, which is the current average in the Maritime provinces.”

“Newfoundland and Labrador has received more revenue per capita than any other province. However, it has had less control on its spending and correspondingly exhibits less discipline in its propensity to borrow.”

It’s important to remember, however, that highlights, like provocative headlines, are little more than clickbait. This is a big issue that deserves an even bigger discussion Where we go from here is something that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should collectively decide.

Dr. Locke’s report is a useful starting point.
Dawn Chafe
Executive editor & co-owner
[email protected]


95 LeMarchant Road
St. John's NL A1C 2H1

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