Dismal job numbers throw wrench into Liberal campaign

A disappointing job count by Statistics Canada in New Brunswick in August that shows three straight months of job losses has thrown a jolt of bad economic news into the province's election campaign with a little more than two weeks to go until voting day.

Despite a gain of just 1,500 jobs since 2014 election, Liberals say they've created 15,000

A little over two weeks before the Sept. 24 election, Brian Gallant's re-election campaign hit a speed bump after Statistics Canada released its job count showing three months of job losses and an unemployment rate of 8.3 per cent. (CBC)

A disappointing job count by Statistics Canada in New Brunswick in August that shows three straight months of job losses has thrown a jolt of bad economic news into the province's election campaign with a little more than two weeks to go until voting day.

According to the latest figures, New Brunswick has dropped 3,900 jobs over the last three months, including the latest loss of 1,100 recorded in August.

That shrinks New Brunswick's job-creation total since government changed hands back in October 2014 to a gain of just 1,500. 

That's eighth among Canada's 10 provinces and represents a growth rate 1/10th the national average over the same four-year period.

It's also the slowest job growth rate in the Maritimes with even Prince Edward Island showing a gain of 1,900 jobs since October 2014 — 400 more than New Brunswick.

Liberals say they've delivered

Roger Melanson said in May that the government had contributed to creating 15,000 jobs over four years. (CBC News)

New Brunswick Liberals pledged in the 2014 election to create a "minimum" of 10,000 jobs during their first term but now say that did not refer to the larger economy but rather to what it would create on its own through infrastructure spending, assistance to businesses for startups and expansions and other public spending.

On that basis, the party has long declared the 10,000-job commitment to have been successfully achieved

"We surpassed our target of helping to create 10,000 jobs by 2018," then Treasury Board Chairman Roger Melanson declared back in May.

'In fact more, than 15,000 jobs were created in the province of New Brunswick [by us]."

A matter of interpretation

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs says the liberals may have contributed to job growth through public spending, but that growth disguised a decline in employment in New Brunswick's private sector. (CBC)

Liberals have repeated that 15,000-job claim during the election, largely ignoring the lack of job growth in the economy itself.

"Government contributed to the creation of 15,000 jobs," the party's promotional material declares.

"The Liberal government's plan has successfully turned around an economy in decline.

"The plan is creating jobs, it is building safer roads, it is building better schools and better hospitals."

PC Leader Blaine Higgs does not dispute public spending has created jobs, but said those have disguised a decline in employment in New Brunswick's private, wealth-producing, economy. 

"Brian Gallant has failed to create a business environment where the private sector can grow," he said at the start of the campaign.

About the Author

Robert Jones

Reporter

Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.

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