Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, May 16, 2014

Canada The Kind

"One of the main reasons I came down here was to find workers. A lot of that has to do with Alberta, with young people in New Brunswick moving out West where the better money is, and so there is a dwindling population."
"But then when you can also get $400 a week back home for doing nothing, why would you go to work for me, for an extra hundred bucks? That's the mentality back home. And it is a shame. But that is what it is. There are some really great workers there, but the unemployment rate during winter -- it's got to be north of 20%."
"Ten people are working for me now. I am hoping that number will be 20 in another month or so, and (then there) will be another round of hiring once we really get set up there (Maine). I have had 50, 60 applications come in. And they are all good applicants. Some bring skills, like electrical or mechanical, but the majority of them just have a good, strong work ethic. They may have been clamming, or painting, or doing whatever they had to do to survive here. It's not like they can hang around collecting a pogey cheque."
"Around here, when it comes to working, it seems to be like how it was back home decades ago."
Cory Guimond, owner, Millenium Marine (Guimond Boats)
Cory Guimond says he was forced to move his boat-building business to Maine from New Brunswick: “I have a lot of pride being from Escuminac, a lot of pride, and if I could have stayed, I would have.”
Courtesy of Cory Guimond   Cory Guimond says he was forced to move his boat-building business to Maine from New Brunswick: “I have a lot of pride being from Escuminac, a lot of pride, and if I could have stayed, I would have.”

Mr. Guimond is deploring a fact of life in Eastern Canada, where the maritime coast is known for its seasonal employment and the generosity of the federal government in extending "employment insurance" to citizens of Canada's maritime provinces far in excess of their counterparts elsewhere in the country. It has been like that since forever. It is so well entrenched that people feel entitled to collect their payments when seasonal work has gone.

There is no stigma attached to this pattern of working for just enough hours to qualify. Employers and employees alike manipulate the system, considering it theirs to do so. People rely on what used to be called "unemployment" benefits, now re-named, strangely enough, as "employment" benefits; yet on the other hand, perhaps it is after all explicable. Taxpayers who are assessed on their own salaries for EI (employment insurance) pay for those who take short-term/temporary jobs to qualify.

And Gary Guimond, whose grandfather Philias began Millenium Marine in Escuminac, New Brunswick had a thriving business in the 1940s which his son later inherited and eventually his grandson took over. He is 39, a third generation New Brunswick builder of boats, but although he built half of the 81 fishing boats at the Escuminac wharf, he cannot find enough workers to keep his business viable in New Brunswick.

Courtesy of Cory Guimond
Photo, Cory Guimond

He had no option but to leave the south shore of Miramichi Bay to relocate to Maine, where orders for boats stream in at a rate he can barely keep up with; orders from the east and west U.S. seaboards; his product is in demand. No one wants to work in New Brunswick for between $12 to $20 an hour when 'welfare' pays just as well, is dependable and requires little effort to attain which is why the community he left has a 21.7% winter unemployment rate.

Younger, more ambitious New Brunswick workers go off to work in oil-wealthy Alberta where the jobs are challenging, numerous and extremely well-remunerated. So, in defeat and regret Cory Guimond relocated to Eastport, Maine and there he feels welcomed and is supremely confident that Guimond Boats has a future, even while nostalgia for New Brunswick assails him.
"Millenium Marine coming here is a win economically and a win for the community because it really reaffirms Eastport's boat-bulding heritage. People might say it's only ten, it is only twenty jobs, but that has huge repercussions for a community of less than 1,500 people."
"Eastport has always been known for its work ethic. People in Maine do what needs to be done."
Chris Gardner, director, Eastport port authority
"I am a third-generation boat builder. I have a lot of pride being from Escuminac -- a lot of pride -- and if I could have stayed, I would have. And I battled. I tried to find workers. And I don't think Canadians are lazy. Most of us are very hard workers, with a good work ethic. But I think we may be spoiled."

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