AIMS on Campus Announces the 2014-15 Student Fellows

Following a tremendously successful year in 2013-14, AIMS on Campus is happy to announce the 2014-15 student fellows:

Rinzin Ngodup
Dalhousie University, Development Economics

Rinzin is a graduate student in development economics at Dalhousie University. Born to Tibetan parents in India, he completed undergraduate studies in economics at the University of Madras, India. He has worked as a teaching assistant at Dalhousie University and has been living in Halifax since 2010 with his cousin. In his spare time, he enjoys reading classic novels and practicing meditation.

Interests: development economics, welfare economics, environmental economics, and macroeconomic policy

Samuel Hammond
Carleton University, Economics

Samuel is a Nova Scotia-native, born and raised on the South Shore. During his undergraduate studies at Saint Mary’s University, he was Editor-in-Chief of the SMU Journal and spent over a year working as a junior economist for ACOA Halifax. He currently resides in Ottawa, where he is a graduate student in economics at Carleton University.

Interests: social choice theory, regional economic development, public finance, and growth theory

Leo Plumer
McGill University, Economics and Political Science

A Newfoundlander, Leo resides in Montreal, where he is enrolled in the joint economics and political science undergraduate programme at McGill University. He is an active member of Students for Liberty, a writer for the Mises Canada Emerging Scholars blog, and a proprietor of his own campus group, all of which has contributed to his interest in public policy. During the few breaks he takes from complaining about politics, he is an avid outdoorsman, gourmand, and metal-head.

Interests: development economics, welfare economics, social justice, international relations, and monetary policy

Corey Schruder
Cape Breton University, History

Corey is pursuing an undergraduate degree in history at Cape Breton University following two years at Queen’s University. He was previously an executive member of the Queen’s Students for Liberty group, where he was responsible for organizing the “Free Speech Wall” on campus, a contributor to the Queen’s Journal and Queen’s International Observer, and a former research assistant with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Most recently, he was an intern at the PMO. In his spare time, he enjoys reading about economic history and spending time with friends and family.

Interests: economic history, labour policy, municipal governance, welfare economics

We’re excited to begin another year and hope to expand the success brought by last year’s student fellows!

Revitalizing Atlantic Canada

Writing for Free Exchange allowed me to examine a multiplicity of issues facing Atlantic Canada and the following are some that I have found to be of paramount importance.

The most prominent issue in Atlantic Canada is slow economic growth, which has resulted in an enormous outflow of skill labourers, young professionals, and families who have left for British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to find work. Economic growth rates in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, for instance, have fallen below the national average of 2 per cent in 2013. Newfoundland and Labrador, which is currently booming due to oil production, is somewhat of an exception, however, declining revenues threaten to derail the province’s path to prosperity. In addition, the three Maritime Provinces experienced declining populations in 2013.

NL’s growth is largely attributable to strong oil and gas production, which has been growing in the province since the mid-2000s. The rest of Atlantic Canada could benefit from NL’s model and the region may need to look toward the oil and gas sector. New Brunswick currently boasts an opportunity to host the Energy East Pipeline and has a prospective shale gas industry. Other opportunities include increased cooperation or shared services between the three Maritime Provinces and exploring trade prospects with emerging markets.

Another problem facing the region, and the entire country, is unfunded liabilities. In other words, public sector pensions are a significant issue that plagues both federal and provincial government. This is where Atlantic Canada can lead: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia both made changes to their pension programs and the rest of Canada could learn from their progress.

In addition, Canada’s healthcare system requires additional consideration and policymakers must look into issues plaguing it. Through the Canada Health Transfer, the federal government allocates funds to the provinces to assist them with growing wait lists, quality assurance, and a number of other issues. However, progress has been futile. The federal government has given $41 billion in additional healthcare funding since 2004, yet, in 2010, Canada ranked last out of 11 countries in terms of wait times. This is why policymakers should consider alternatives to the status quo.

There are also serious democratic issues facing the country. The Senate remains unelected and unaccountable, and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling inscribed the current structure in stone. Its ruling does not need necessarily indicate defeat, though, and the Prime Minister, in addition to supporting premiers, must take the lead and ensure reform to the Upper Chamber.

While many Canadians may agree that these issues are of great importance, there must be action. We often criticize the political sphere for not dealing with these issues adequately, however, the truth is that we, as electors, must show that they are a priority or politicians will not give them due consideration. It is our duty to ensure that ideas, such as natural resource development, prudent fiscal management, and adequate healthcare, receive fair scrutiny, rather than arbitrarily dismissing them from the outset; it is our duty as citizens to place them on the political agenda.

Randy Kaye is a 2013-2014 Atlantic Institute for Market Studies’ Student Fellow. The views expressed are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the Institute

Expediting Skills Training in Atlantic Canada

The Atlantic Provinces are taking the lead in addressing an issue that the whole country currently faces. Canada’s shortage of skilled labours, especially in provinces undergoing major infrastructural projects and natural resource development, such as Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, is the result of various contributing factors. Each year, for instance, an increasing number of young adults enter post-secondary institutions and are not, therefore, capable of satisfying the country’s demand for skilled labour. In addition, Canada’s populating is ageing and many workers are leaving the labour force. However, the Atlantic Canadian provinces are adopting policies that are favourable toward the expansion of Canada’s resource industry in the coming years and a uniform apprenticeship program is part of the region’s solution.

In January, New Brunswick’s (NB) Premier David Alward announced the harmonization of provincial apprenticeship programs in NB, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), Nova Scotia (NS), and Prince Edward Island (PEI), which would encourage trainees to stay in the Atlantic region after completing their programs. Combining the provincial programs is an arduous task that will require a lot of effort, however, the federal government has committed $4.3 million toward the project and each province will allocate an additional $3.5 million in staff time and operational support to buttress the initiative. Initially, the provinces will harmonize apprenticeship programs pertaining to bricklayers, cooks, construction workers, electricians, and instrumentation and control technicians, although the remaining trades will be included shortly thereafter.

Unifying apprenticeship requirements affords greater flexibility to trainees in terms of where they study and complete the hours required to satisfy their program requirements. It also provides an opportunity to move freely throughout the Atlantic region in order to find employment, a benefit to not only those accumulating apprenticeship hours, but also those who hire them.

Currently there are 13 different apprenticeship programs in Canada. While these programs are comparable, they impose restrictions that hinder individuals from taking advantage of work opportunities in regions outside of where they studied. Many apprentices who travel for work experience find difficultly trying to obtain credit for the hours worked outside of their province and, as a result, it often takes them longer to complete their requirements. Creating a consistent and mobile system will, therefore, allow for an efficient allocation of labour and faster completion of training programs.

These changes streamline the apprenticeship process, allowing skilled labourers to train more efficiently and the results will likely be positive. There has already been significant movement toward streamlining provincial certifications and the region’s new focus is on removing barriers for those in the process of obtaining them. As a result, young adults interested in pursuing the trades will be more likely to enrol in local training courses. Furthermore, knowing that there are opportunities available in Atlantic Canada will persuade these individuals to stay in the region. A faster and more secure route to completing a skilled trade certification will also aide the current apprentice-journeyman ratio issue. With fewer delays due to finding apprenticeships, individuals can move through the system faster and become journeymen for the continuing inflow of training labourers.

If harmonizing provincial apprenticeship programs proves successful in Atlantic Canada, the country’s remaining provinces should consider similar initiatives. Canada could also benefit from streamlining these programs nationally where they are not already.

Atlantic Canada has begun the process of creating an infrastructure for training new skilled labourers that benefits employees, employers, and the economy. Aligning apprenticeship programs has the potential to address Canada’s skilled labour shortage in an effective and efficient manner and as these changes unfold in Atlantic Canada, it will be unsurprising to see their successes mirrored at the national level.

Rachel Lowe is a 2013-2014 Atlantic Institute for Market Studies’ Student Fellow. The views expressed are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the Institute