Growth in government employment has totally overtaken the private sector, especially in Ontario, a new Fraser Institute study says. The study defines public employees as anyone working for any level of government, for a government service or agency, a Crown corporation or a government-funded organization such as a school or hospital.
Here are the provinces listed with their public and then private sector growth rate between 2003 and 2013:
- Ontario – 27.6%, 5.6%
- Alberta – 31.9%, 29.3%
- B.C. – 24.3%, 14%
- Quebec – 16.1%, 10.1%
- Manitoba – 15.6%, 12.1%
- New Brunswick – 9.7%, 2.1%
- Saskatchewan – 22.9%, 16%
- Prince Edward Island – 20.9%, 10.9%
- Newfoundland – 11.8%, 14%
- Nova Scotia – 12.6%, 1.1%
Just to break things down a bit further: Alberta ranks highest for public sector job growth, at 31.9%. But its private sector grew by almost as much, at 29.3%, whereas Ontario, saw its public sector employment grow by 27.6% while its private sector grew by just 5.6%.
This is a growth never seen before since the early 1990s (Government employment nationwide grew by 22.6% in that decade – almost twice as much as the private sector, which saw employment grow by 10.7%).
Lakehead University economics professor Livio Di Matteo said of the numbers: “Overall, the private sector in Ontario has been particularly hard hit.”
And it is in the local government and indirect jobs where much of the public sector job growth has happened, according to Di Matteo.
While not part of the study, Di Matteo said he has since found that across Canada municipal government jobs — police officers, firefighters, and anyone else employed by cities — saw 73 per cent growth between 2000 and 2012.
He also found significant increases in areas like health and social services with 25 per cent growth, and school boards with 36 per cent growth.
Meanwhile direct government employees at the provincial level only grew by three per cent across Canada in the same period.
At the federal level, the number of civil servants climbed steadily through the 2000s, but has been dropping in recent years, from 282,980 in 2010 to 257,138 in 2014.
The study notes that there are “important adverse economic and fiscal implications” that could arise from an increase in government jobs. Says Di Matteo: “This is a concern because it’s the private sector — through investment and innovation — that largely generates the wealth and taxes needed to provide the public services that we all hold dear.”
It was also noted that the results of this study “coincide with a period of increases in provincial government spending, ballooning government debt and sluggish economic growth.”
ABOUT THE FRASER INSTITUTE
The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with active research ties with similar independent organizations in more than 80 countries around the world. They are often referred to as a “think tank” and have been ranked by a University of Pennsylvania study as the top think tank in Canada.
SOURCE: CTV News, Fraser Institute
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