Owen Martin knows that leaders come and go, but he believes the province’s current economic troubles will be with us for the long term.
It’s one of the things he feels is making young people want to move.
“I think it’s going to affect us largely for the rest of our lives, really,” says the Holy Heart of Mary student. “I don’t know when Muskrat Falls will truly become profitable, and electric bills are already going up. ... With electrical going up, and the $2-billion deficit off this hydro profit, it’s a really great way to scare young people away from starting families in Newfoundland.”
Three-quarters of the students from eastern Newfoundland who took part in The Telegram’s survey say in the long term, they want to leave the province. Martin says while that might seem high, “in reality it’s not that surprising.
“Because you look at job markets, you know, out west in Vancouver, that area is sort of becoming a new Silicon Valley-type hub, a lot of startups happening, and people are just being drawn to larger centres.”
Martin says leaving the province is “an eventuality” for him once he’s done studying science at Memorial in St. John’s.
“If I can find a job when I come out of School in Newfoundland, then great, I wouldn’t mind staying. But there is also a draw to explore beyond Newfoundland and live in a different city. I think that’s a good experience to have,” he says.
He says while he doesn’t think Newfoundland’s aging population is approaching catastrophe, losing a lot of young people could certainly be damaging to the local economy.
“Without those people, those frequent transactions would dry up. And I guess just even culturally, a lot of young people are doing really great things in music and art. I think that would be a big loss as well,” he says.
Asked what would keep more people in eastern Newfoundland, Martin points to MUN.
“If they offered more programs so that people wouldn’t go away for their education, if we could keep local talent in the province and foster their education here, they’d be more likely to stay because the more varied degree options would create jobs in that sector here which wouldn’t exist,” he says.