Transfer whole departments, gov't urged
The Nova Scotia government should move an entire department or agency to Cape Breton to spur economic development, a political scientist says.
Tom Urbaniak, an associate professor at Cape Breton University, said the government's plan to move 25 Justice Department jobs to New Waterford doesn't go far enough.
"Any new jobs for the region are welcomed, of course, but this is still a very, very modest measure," he told CBC News.
"It doesn't really come close to the kind of regional economic development, affirmative action that the region needs and it doesn't come close to what other provinces have done, what other provinces have experimented with."
In Prince Edward Island, the Department of Education was transferred from Charlottetown to Summerside a few years ago. About 120 department employees work 53 kilometres — about a 45-minute drive — from the P.E.I. capital.
So far, Nova Scotia's NDP government has announced nearly 100 jobs would be moved out to the regions, but not an entire department.
Urbaniak said the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage might be a good fit for Cape Breton. That would mean far more jobs, he noted.
The unemployment rate in Cape Breton is about twice that of Halifax. At the beginning of the year, it was 14.5 per cent.
Urbaniak urges the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union to get behind the idea of decentralization, particularly given Cape Breton's union ties.
NSGEU president Joan Jessome has said the province should focus on creating jobs, rather than disrupt the lives of its workers.
"If we see in this case that Ms. Jessome and others become entrenched, I think that's going to be very unfortunate. It's going to be probably very unfortunate for the unions themselves," Urbaniak said.
"I mean, think about how strong and important the labour movement has been in Cape Breton and how much Cape Bretoners do to sustain the leadership of various unions."
The provincial government says there are more job relocations to come.