Jack Brennan of Labrador City will study music at MUN this fall, but he is keeping an open mind about where his career path may take him.
“To lay as wide of a foundation as I possibly can, I’m doing courses to help train me for an SCAD exam in medicine, if I so should want,” he says.
Whatever he ends up doing, Brennan doesn’t think he’ll stay in Labrador; the work just isn’t there for him.
“In Lab City, unless you’re working in the mine, there’s very few job possibilities. So for people who don’t really want to do that, like myself,” he says, explaining that he’s clumsy and not very good at manual labour, “staying, especially in my region, wouldn’t really work, unless I wanted to become a teacher. There’s not a lot of job possibilities here besides the mine, teaching and restaurants.”
He says Labrador-Grenfell Health offers a grant to medical students to entice them to come back to Labrador and work for a time after school, and that’s something he may consider in the future.
“If I found the work, I would like to stay in Labrador or Newfoundland. It would be nice to stay in my hometown, especially with all the family, but if there was no job here I would be just as happy to go to Newfoundland, too, because it’s a very isolated community here,” he says.
While finding work is a priority, it’s only part of the equation when choosing where to live.
“When you’re working and you’ve got a career, I would want to have a little bit more luxury when it comes to where I was living. And this is a very cut-and-dry mining work town with very few services, goods. We have very few restaurants – they’re dropping like flies, restaurants and services. ... We had Wabush Mines shut down a couple of years ago, so we still have ramifications from that.”
Another thing that troubles him about Lab West is the housing market, which he likens to a roller coaster.
With that said, Brennan says he expects about half of his graduating class (which is comprised of about 110 people) to stick around.
“There’s a certain type of person here, and it’s in the grad class, too. And they’re very much built for this area. They’re very, very hands-on, manual, mechanic type trade workers, and they’re the ones who have all the four-wheelers and camping and fishing and hunting. This is a paradise for them, and I don’t think they would ever leave,” he says.
In an anonymous survey, we asked: How do you feel the province’s fiscal situation affects your community? Here are some of the answers we received.
• “The taxes in Newfoundland are unreasonably high and it puts a lot of financial stress on members of my community.” (Western)
• “We have lost many teachers which results in lack of opportunity at school. Clubs and sport teams have had to be cut due to the lack of school staff. Education has also become harder due to the lack of teachers.” (Eastern)
• “I feel it does not affect top-performing high school students.” (Central)
• “People are stressed out — they don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills, everyone is in constant fear of whether or not they’re going to lose their jobs.” (Eastern)
• “It has an impact on the resources available to us — there’s no proper psychiatric doctor in my community not in the ones further up north who desperately need them.” (Labrador)
• “We see our community losing a large portion of its services as time progresses, funding is being cut left, right and centre and it’s difficult for us to keep up.” (Labrador)
• “The province’s fiscal situation is garbage.” (Western)
• “The population is becoming older as young people move away for better job opportunities and education.” (Central)