St. John’s councillor slams report predicting decline in province’s population

Daniel MacEachern
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St. John’s city council has slammed a new report that forecasts a long-term population decline in the province.

At Monday night’s meeting, Coun. Tom Hann criticized a new report from the Conference Board of Canada that predicts Newfoundland and Labrador’s population will decline from its current 527,000 to 482,000 by 2035.

The report predicts declining economic fortunes for Newfoundland and Labrador over the next two decades, and notes the province’s annual number of deaths exceeds the annual number of births, and the birth rate — 1.45 births per woman in 2011 — is the second-lowest in Canada.

On Monday afternoon, former premier Danny Williams called the report “bullshit,” and Hann followed suit in sentiment, if not in words.

“I will not say that in this chamber, your worship,” Hann told Mayor Dennis O’Keefe Monday night. “As much as I would like to, I will not. (But) he was absolutely right.”

Hann questioned how the board arrived at its conclusion, given the amount of oil activity in the province.

“I don’t know what the methodology was, or how they did the research, but I think they’re way off base, and they’re not thinking in terms of coming here and being on the ground and investigating,” said Hann, who asked city staff to analyze the report. “I don’t think you can sit at a desk in Toronto and predict that this place is going down the drain.”

O’Keefe agreed.

“It just amazed me that that report came out following the terrific announcement by Statoil last week … that they are continuing this summer their exploration and drilling in the Flemish Pass area,” he said. “In the face of all of that positivism, we have this sort of thing emanating from the Conference Board of Canada, and I think former premier Williams summed it up very well today for the media.”

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Conference Board of Canada, Statoil

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Toronto

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Recent comments

  • jack
    March 05, 2014 - 06:57

    well danny said , given the amount of oil in this provience ,,, there is none in the provience , its offshore , and it goes down south . ok a few rigs, i dont see a steel plant making pipe , or anything offshore . it all comes from away . this place is sliding if you dont see it look at the houses in this city ,, all junk , and the new ones people move in and five yrs there gone back . I dont see oil comming in here ,, i dont oil money comming in , i see govt spending it , i see danny making a fortune, and no offence his great but how can he get all that land for cheap when we couldnt get a peice for a house less than a hundred grande. come on people open up your eyes .

  • Stephen D Redgrave
    February 13, 2014 - 03:29

    Of course the population will drop. Without any solid inland indusrty the average person/immigrant, regardless of birth/deathg ratio's will leave to find a job. Sitting around all winter has become Newfoundland's downfall, and always will be until people like myself (from away) come in and creat work. My business is now 100% paid for and generating an income. This didn't happen waiting for fishing season , or riding a risky flight in an old helicopter to a dangerouse oil rig in the North Atlantic. We've wasted hundreds of years, and the best Williams can come up with is a bunch of houses? Where will all the new proud homeowners work? Exactly--Alberta!! Kathy Dunderdale was just begining to understand this and started to take small steps to change it, but Newfoundland seems to be looking at the "right now" instead of ten years down the road. Now we have a cartoon character wanting to be premier , and continue to double talk us into more unemployment and poverty. Look at England--same size as us, but they have industry and work ethics. It makes a difference. Housing is temporary work at best. Ater it's all built everyone will run back to the west.

  • mike
    February 12, 2014 - 18:04

    you guys have your heads in the sand. face the facts, nf population will decline if you do not raise the wages equal to alberta and create jobs for the trades people. you talk about oil, oil oil, where is that getting nflders. the future will tell the truth. the survey is correct .

  • ed
    February 12, 2014 - 16:21

    Sad commentary on the politicians of this province. Why are they fooling public and investors? Writing is on the wall and has been for decades - the only people left are with no where to go and ageing. Gov must act on making the province more immigrant friendly and should remove hurdles in outsiders getting jobs. The population will keep going down no matter Hann thinks otherwise

  • sc
    February 12, 2014 - 14:57

    Ah yes, everything here is wonderful - the best in the world. Don't let anyone tell you differently. If someone dares suggest that there might be a problem, simply declare that they don't know what they're talking about. Don't let facts confuse you. Denial will trump everything. How can someone claim that a report is wrong and at the same time confess to not understanding the methodology used to come to conclusions stated in it? I wonder if Mr. Hann would have been more likely to have accepted the report if it had been done by locals instead of those damned mainlanders who frequently shatter the rose-coloured glasses of NL politicians and many residents. Yes, let's all believe what Danny and his sycophants tell us. Muskrat Falls and the oil industry will lead to prosperity for all, the world's best health care, the end of inequality, etc. etc. No evidence, no problem. Just believe what Danny says.

    • yo mama
      February 13, 2014 - 04:53

      Loosen that tinfoil hat mate.

  • Tom Hann and BS
    February 12, 2014 - 14:35

    United Nations population reoorts have shown decking birth rates in both Canada and theUS for almost a decade. Only increased immigration numbers have supported North American population increases. If Mr. Hann had any education or professional experience he would recognise how population trnds change over time. Being an at large municipal politician hardly provides him with any authority to comment on this issue.

  • When
    February 12, 2014 - 13:57

    When did Williams and Hann and O'Keefe become experts on population? Don't they realize how bad they look when they make comments like this? I know just as much, i.e. nothing, about the chemicals they use in oil production, and you won't see me making any comments about that.

  • Gadget Fink
    February 12, 2014 - 13:56

    By he thinks they were off base, he really means he feels that they're off base. Instead of people getting emotional about things, they should look in to the data.

  • Brett
    February 12, 2014 - 13:52

    There was a report put out by the province that had the population in the greater st John's area increasing. We are ahead of those figures. That being said, other than oil and whatever spin offs, the province isn't growing and hasn't for years. Tourism is so small compared to what it should be given the population of canada and the world. There really isn't much outside the avalon and the standard of living in NL is much worse than in more populated provinces (you have to look outside Atlantic canada).

  • Ed Hollett
    February 12, 2014 - 10:14

    So now we know that Williams, Hann, and O'Keefe have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to population trends. I'd suggest they should stick to what they know, but frankly, given that they are obviously prone to talk about subjects they know nothing about, it's hard to figure out if they actually know anything about anything.

  • saelcove
    February 12, 2014 - 09:51

    The only one full of bullshit is williams himself and his minnows and that would be the evening telegram

  • Sick of BS
    February 12, 2014 - 09:44

    The definition of bullshit is off the cuff remarks that have no foundation in research or fact. Councilor Hann hasn't read the report, hasn't crunched the numbers himself, nor does he know the methodology that led the researchers to arrive at their conclusion. By all tests, Hann's words fit the definition of the term. One oil project isn't going to maintain this province's economic position. Better take off the rose coloured glasses Mr. Hann, and upgrade your knowledge that will enable you to make the right decisions for the city.

  • David Smart
    February 12, 2014 - 09:09

    Having City staff analyze the Conference Board of Canada report is a waste of my tax dollars. Shame on you Tom Hann!! What are you trying to share the spotlight with Danny Williams, give over!!

  • david
    February 12, 2014 - 08:28

    "....I don’t know what the methodology was, or how they did the research, but I think they’re way off base, and they’re not thinking in terms of coming here and being on the ground and investigating..." Another proud example of the Newfoundland thin-skinned, irrational, unintelligent delusion. The constant blitzkrieg propaganda campaign to keep Newfoundlanders from ever thinking about basic truths is Stalinesque. How could a place that claims to be the 'best place in the world' be so afraid of any amount of analysis or introspection? In fact, how bad ARE things here that denial of even solid, decades-long statistical reality is rejected as pure heresy?

  • The Truth
    February 12, 2014 - 08:23

    Tom Hann, the demographics expert... The number of people needed to support offshore oil is surprisingly small. What's with the tendency of Newfoundlanders to throw their fast food garbage out their car windows? I was home last summer and took a walk on the Bauline Line. Disgusting.

  • Joe
    February 12, 2014 - 08:16

    Wow an important story! Last week the City was ranked 98 out of 100 in disclosing information. On the City web site the audited financial statements for 2012 were put up on February 6, 2014. Well the financial figures weren't put there, but the cover sheet was(February 12). I guess that's a start. Maybe we won't have to wait another 13 months to get the actual statements. Hopefully we will have the 2013 financial statements before the next election. Great work by the finance chair Danny Breen.

  • John Q Public
    February 12, 2014 - 07:55

    Tom Hann can only see as far as the Hann(d) in front of his face! Translated, he only sees what is happening east of the overpass! His idol, Danny William's, called the estimate by the conference board of Canada "bullshit" and Mr. Hann had to follow suit. Unwittingly though, Mr. Hann simply showed us that he is just as full of "bull shit" as Danny thinks the conference board is.

  • W Bagg
    February 12, 2014 - 07:50

    apparently oil has the capability to reproduce