Beyond the Headlines

The cold reality of job cuts

Posted: Oct 30, 2013 1:02 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013 1:02 PM ET

Here's a startling fact: since Stephen McNeil and the Liberals swept to power on October 8th, Nova Scotia has lost more than 500 full-time, well paying jobs.


It started just days after the election when Blackberry announced it is closing its Bedford office, throwing 350 people out of work. Last week Convergys revealed it is closing its Dartmouth call centre with 130 jobs lost. And this week Xerox told us it's laying off 48 people at its call centre in Burnside.


Now it would be patently unfair, and rather absurd,  to blame the newly elected Liberal government for any of this (although I'm a tad surprised the opposition parties haven't tried to, after all, that's what opposition parties do).


The cold reality is the provincial government has very little control over the global economic conditions that drive the business decisions of multinational corporations.


Even the offer of grants, loans and rebates are sometimes not enough to change the minds of CEOs as they move operations around their global chess boards.


Just look at Bowater. The province offered it $25 million to stay but that wasn't enough (although it did sell land to the province for a cool $24 million before turning off the lights and locking the doors.)


Then there's Xerox. In June, 2012 the province and Xerox signed a deal that would see the province give the company up to $4.4 million in payroll rebates - an incentive that has become a staple for our call centre industry - if it increased the number of people working at its Dartmouth call centre.


At the time 220 people were working there. With this week's announcement it's cutting 48 jobs that number is now down to 135.


The bottom line is the internal economics of a global corporation like Xerox trumped the province's offer of a few million in payroll rebates.


There's an old axiom that governments get far too much credit when the economy is booming and jobs are plentiful, and far too much blame when the economy goes south, and jobs are cut.


That's especially true in a small pond like Nova Scotia.
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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.

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