Before negotiating with government, NAPE ran a publicity campaign to try and convince us that our being a "have province" means they are entitled to have more public sector employees with increased pay and benefits.
However, spending more government money on public service employees pushes the province back to a "have not" province rather than toward a "have" province.
A "have" province is one where people have job opportunities and where government expenditure maximizes the benefit to all citizens, not just those placed on the public payroll.
Jobs or no jobs?
The NAPE advertisements say that there are no jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador and we have to go away to work.
The truth is, in Newfoundland and Labrador there are many job opportunities.
Companies are flying in planeloads of workers every week from other provinces to fill job vacancies here in the province.
If you check the newspaper you will find hundreds of advertisements for jobs. There are even discussions about bringing in foreign workers to fill the vacant positions.
One of the reasons is the mismatch between a person's education and the employment skills needed.
A large gap exists between the courses students study for personal development and/or interest and the employability skills needed in the marketplace.
Public servants carry costs
Every additional public sector employee is an additional burden, both directly and indirectly, to the private sector taxpayer.
Their cost is paid directly through taxes by the private sector taxpayer or by government using business taxes and natural resource royalties.
Both the taxes and royalties should be used for the common good of all, not on the salaries of a few.
The continuous growth of the public sector will destroy the Newfoundland and Labrador economy if it is not corrected.
The following is derived from Statistics Canada records.
During the past 10 years (2003-2012), our population decreased by 5,861 (1.13 per cent) from 518,520 to 512,659 (with a low of 506,352 in 2008).
During the same period, the number of provincial sector employees increased from 9,712 to 12,388, which is an increase of 2,676 or 27.6 per cent. The cost to the taxpayer increased 75.3 per cent to pay the wages and benefits of the public sector employees.
During the past 10 years, the number of employees in post-secondary institutions has increased by 2,689 (33.9 per cent) from 7,936 to 10,625.
The cost to the taxpayer increased 63.4 per cent to pay the wages and benefits of the post-secondary employees.
How can NAPE rationalize these enormous increases when we do not have a population increase to pay for that?
Paying the tab
Without a large growth in population to pay for those increases, the burden has fallen squarely on the private sector taxpayer.
A "have" province is also a place where people can enjoy the fruit of their labours without being overburdened with taxes to pay for large increases in the number of people on our public payroll.
Morley Whitt writes from St. John's.