Beyond the Headlines

You can't buy experience

Posted: Jun 20, 2012 11:56 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 20, 2012 11:56 AM ET
You can't buy experience. It's a cliche we hear repeated everyday from business leaders to coaches.
But it's a truism that may have been lost on Justice Minister Ross Landry, or at least it's one he's choosing to ignore.
You have probably heard by now that Justice is moving its maintenance enforcement department to New Waterford. We've now learned 22 of the 23 unionized workers have told the government they won't move; instead they will take other jobs in the public service, or opt for a severance package (one person hasn't made a decision yet).
That's a ton of experience that will be left behind when the office heads down the road.
Landry doesn't see that as a problem. He calls it an "opportunity" to hire smart, young Nova Scotians.
"I see nothing negative here," said Landry this week. "Nobody likes to lose expertise but I learned a long time ago that we need to move forward. There are people there that we can capture their knowledge and pass it on to younger people that are motivated to do these jobs in that area."
In other words, those long-term experienced civil servants can easily be replaced with hardly a bump in the system.

If only it was that easy.
The province's maintenance enforcement department is a lifeline for thousands of single parents. Their job is to collect court-ordered support payments from ex-spouses who don't want to pay. Money these single parents need to provide housing, decent clothing and healthy food for their children.
According to documents obtained by the Progressive Conservatives, maintenance enforcement workers handle 16,000 files.
It isn't easy to track down so-called dead-beat Dads (the vast majority of these scofflaws are men). It takes years to learn the tricks of the trade, to learn how to navigate the tax and banking systems looking for hidden assets, and then find ways to actually get the money.
You can't replace that kind of experience overnight. Sure, the new whiz kids Landry wants to hire will eventually get it, but in the meantime their clients, and their clients' children will suffer.
The same scenario is playing out in the Department of Fisheries, where the government has ordered jobs moved to Shelburne and Digby, and in the Department of Agriculture where jobs are being moved to Truro.
The final numbers aren't in yet, but the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union says it looks like the majority of those workers will also refuse to move.
Some may have little sympathy for these displaced workers. After all, they have what many Nova Scotians would consider "cushy" high paying jobs. But put yourselves in their shoes. How would you react if you boss told you your job was moving? Would your partner be willing to leave his/her job  to start all over again in a region of the province with double-digit unemployment? Would you be willing to haul your kids out of their schools and sports programs, never mind away from their friends?
My guess is, if we had the chance, most of us would choose to stay home and find other jobs inside the public service.
No one is questioning the government's desire to create jobs in economically depressed regions of our province.
But the question is: is this the best way to do it?
Previous Post
Next Post

About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

Recent Entries

Falling through the cracks
Falling through the cracks
Apr 23, 1:32 PM

Nova Scotia's justice system is battered and bruised.  Two high-profile cases, both involving the alleged sexual assault of young people, have sorely tested the public's confidence in both the people... more »

Social media demands justice for Rehtaeh
Social media demands justice for Rehtaeh
Apr 10, 12:44 PM

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Ross Landry learned first hand the power of social media. It's a lesson he's learning the hard way.Earlier in the week, Leah Parsons turned to social... more »

Investigating the police
Investigating the police
Mar 22, 6:12 PM

Last April the province unveiled its brand new Serious Incident Response Team. The agency was established to conduct independent and transparent investigations of all serious incidents involving police officers.The idea... more »

View the Beyond the Headlines Archives »