GUNTER: Jobs recovery that rests on public sector jobs not sustainable

Supertee August 14, 2022
Updated 2022/08/14 at 7:16 AM

I think I’ve finally figured out why more people who work in the public sector were OK with COVID lockdowns and mask mandates than people in the private sector. And, no, it’s not because they are part of some grand plot dreamt up by the World Economic Forum to strip us of our rights.

It’s because lockdowns and other restrictions didn’t impact their incomes and lives as much as they did for private-sector workers.Public servants got to work from home, but at least they kept their jobs. Compared to the private sector, there were few layoffs.

Public-sector employment returned to pre-pandemic levels in September 2020, just six months after the public health emergency was declared. Private-sector job totals didn’t reach pre-COVID numbers for another 13 months beyond that (October 2021).

When politicians such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claim Canada’s post-pandemic jobs recovery has been “remarkable,” they’re either being self-delusional or dishonest.

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I’ve seen two interpretations of StatsCan’s figures on the jobs recovery. One says 85 per cent of the positions added to Canada’s workforce since last summer were in the public sector. The other says the true number is 92 per cent.

Either way, that kind of recovery is unsustainable.

To the person holding one of the new government jobs, a job is a job.

Indeed, a public-sector job is super attractive. The hours are shorter. The pay is better. The stress is typically lower. It’s more likely that you can “work” from home. There is little chance of being let go. And your pension comes earlier and is richer than private-sector alternatives.

But civil servants (like all of us) only pay about 30 per cent of their incomes to taxes – the taxes that pay their salaries. That means it takes the taxes of an additional 3.5 private-sector workers to top up the pay of every single public-sector employee – nurses, teachers, bureaucrats, plow operators, police, and so on.

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If our economy doesn’t generate new private-sector jobs, where are all the tax dollars going to come from to pay the wages of all those new public servants?

It is very short-sighted to cheer a jobs recovery that rests almost entirely on new public-sector jobs.

More proof that the pandemic was much easier on the public sector came this week in the form of two more stats.

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, 45,000 additional federal bureaucrats (not to mention provincial and municipal ones, too) had their incomes rise above the $100,000 mark during the pandemic.

Not only is Ottawa hiring a lot more public workers, it’s paying them a lot better, too.

Meanwhile, the number of family-owned small businesses cratered.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the federal Industry department has found that nearly a quarter of all businesses of fewer than 500 employers that were owned and operated by members of the same family failed during the pandemic.

That’s a huge blow to Canada’s middle class from a government that promised when it was first elected to make the middle class its top economic priority.

Despite this legion of new civil servants with their inflated pay, more and more functions of government are crumbling – hospitals, airports, passport offices, ports.

And to top it all off, the Trudeau government is seen as the second most-hostile to foreign investment among the 38 members countries of the OECD.

It’s not that Canada has no features that lure investors. Rather, the Trudeau Liberals are actively discouraging investment, especially in the energy sector where the “green” cult that runs Ottawa has scared away upwards of $300 billion in jobs-creating investment since the Liberals took power seven years ago.

If pandemic restrictions had been as tough on public-sector workers as they were on private, more civil servants would be reluctant to impose them again.

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