Action plans need … actions

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I read with interest the recent article  “Government says population strategy pending,” Feb 15. My mind immediately went to a management lesson I learned long ago but has stayed with me through the years: action plans are only as good as the actions you actually take.

Recent discussions about our population have elicited strong reactions — and rightly so.

While I strongly agree we need to address our population challenges, there is great concern that we’ll never see action taken on the population strategy because we have a government with a track record of broken promises and unfulfilled commitments.

Despite Advanced Education and Skills Minister Kevin O’Brien’s defence of the time taken to develop the population strategy promised in 2011, two years is too long to wait for a strategy that was needed years ago.

If we ever do see the strategy from government, I fear it will no longer be relevant, and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

We are way behind where we need to be on addressing our population growth issues, and we’ve long known about the demographic trends related to the baby boom. This problem is not unique to us and most other provinces have been activating plans to grow their population and immigration measures for some time now. 

Here we are in place of tremendous opportunity. Why aren’t we doing everything we can to benefit fully from that opportunity by retaining and attracting people to live, work and raise their families in Newfoundland and Labrador?

If history is any indication, we’ll see the Tories write a strategy as if it alone is the solution, failing to see the link between actions that strategies must be based on.

They did release strategies that may have helped us grow — the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy and the Immigration Strategy — yet these seem to have disappeared or have been cut significantly.  

If you look back through this government’s history you’ll find many examples of clear deliverables they have yet to action or fulfil in a meaningful way. The population strategy is just one of a long list of important commitments that have yet to come to fruition including the seven-year-old Ferry Replacement Strategy, the Strategic Adult Literacy Plan announced in 2007 and the 2012 provincial minimum wage report that has resulted in no action to date. 

Fulfilling our potential with respect to jobs and addressing daycare capacity issues will be essential.

However, many other unaddressed issues, some of which are noted above, may also negatively impact our quality of life and limit our capacity to successfully compete to attract and retain the young families we need.

The reality is, at a macro level, there is significant opportunity on the horizon.

However, this is not a panacea to counter population decline.

What government doesn’t seem to understand is at a micro level people of the province filter this opportunity through the lens of “how does it impact me?”

Families, young people and those looking for their own “opportunity to optimize” want more than core essentials, they want access to services and communities that offer them a good quality of life.

If government doesn’t start taking action on multiple fronts that matter to people, we can expect a continued trend in population growth – or a lack thereof.

The time for excuses is over — the time for action is now.

Cathy Bennett writes from St. John’s.

Organizations: Strategic Adult Literacy Plan

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Cashin Delaney
    February 28, 2014 - 04:34

    Ennius on the early Roman Republic "Rome's severe morality and her citizens are her safeguard" It is evident that Bennett is a great business leader, and would have done well in the late Empire, not so well in the early Republic, but it does not translate into our Remote-Control-Republic of Oil. I would rephrase her statement, thusly: {If government doesn’t STOP taking action on multiple fronts that matter to people, we can expect a continued trend in population growth – or a lack thereof.} "attract and retain the young families we need" Who is the we that needs the young families? I don't need young families, if the price of Mickey's or Tims goes up, for lack of Mom's to work, I can accept that, and adjust my spending accordingly. Given full “opportunity to optimize” our population, what would Bennett's magic number be, of all the magic numbers? -12?- $12/hr with $600 light bills and PrePreKindergarten? Why not blend the new Midwifery program with service industry training for mother and child, so they can all go right to work, and optimize the economy? I wonder how people like you and Daniel 'celtic' Tiger do it? To accomplish the same financial success on others backs, I fear I would have to become at least a little bully, if not a big one, or at least an expert bullshitter. Danny made bullshit a word fit for print. I want my daughter to have a full-time Mother. So does her mother. Bennett seems fundamentally against important things I hold dear. Bill Barry hasn't filed his papers yet you know, at least she came out swinging for power, I give her that much. Now, leave us alone please. Saint Augustine on the late Roman Empire "Justice being taken away, then, what are Kingdoms but great robberies?"

  • Colin Burke
    February 27, 2014 - 09:33

    "Fulfilling our potential with respect to jobs and addressing daycare capacity issues will be essential." Really, now. People need reasons to do anything difficult, and making it easy is not such a reason. Having a job is not a reason to have children; if one has children or wants children in today's economic environment, then one needs a job, especially if one's education fitted one only to perform jobs for others. Having access to daycare is not a reason to have children; having children is an unreasonable reason to need daycare. One wants to do things which are difficult, for interesting reasons. It is interesting to work at what one wants to achieve; it is not enough to work so that its being achieved will occur, or that someone else will provide it. If we were permitted to work at supplying our own needs, which "our" businessmen and businesswomen don't want us to do, then perhaps the population of Newfoundland would be the size the population itself needed, not the size the population's employers need (to make big money for them while the big oil boom lasts).