This past Sunday, a man contacted our business when one of our female staff was working a little overtime and he spent a few minutes berating her and, particularly, me for something to do with my involvement with the St. John’s Board of Trade.
She was as confused as was I when she told me what had happened. I then read The Telegram and saw that the president of NAPE had pondered the idea of that businesses boycott members of the St. John’s Board of Trade, of which we are a member. I then understood what the caller was trying to say.
We belong to the Board of Trade for one reason and one reason only: we need to belong to it to ensure that we are eligible to obtain medical insurance for our employees. I am not an active member. I don’t attend social events, I don’t vote in the elections and, over the years, I have concluded that its actual contribution to the economy of St. John’s is negligible.
I don’t support the position that the board has taken regarding the recent proposed NAPE contract. Its position was generated as a result of a Toronto-based labour lawyer who, in my opinion, just climbed off the turnip truck. No one can argue that this province is not in a fiscal crisis and, yes, I believe we have too many public servants. But the answer is not laying them off.
A mass layoff of public servants will do more harm to the economy than keeping them employed. Respectable, knowledgeable and informed economists and psychologists will tell you that with such an event, the businesses that will suffer and eventually close are fast-food businesses, restaurants, kids’ after-school programs, convenience stores, etc. That will mean further layoffs and a recession of a magnitude that recovery, if it happens at all, will be long and hard. Instead, both union and government decided that the contract would have no layoffs and attrition would have to do at this time — a position I personally support.
I don’t support Jerry Earle’s suggestion that businesses that belong to the board should be boycotted. That is ill-informed, reactionary and would harm only the businesses and the employees of those businesses. Instead, if we members disagree with the board’s decision, we should express our opinions to the board and boycott board events. That is more effective.
It seems every time we find ourselves in a fiscal crisis in this province, the solution is to cut health services and layoff employees. It’s never the solution.
We live in a province where nearly 150,000 people pay no property tax and those of us who do are paying to repair and pave the roads in those communities. Legislate them into annexation with the closest incorporated community, for tens of millions of dollars in savings to government.
Our medical system in is chaos because we have allowed doctors to set the rules. They are out of control. They give our employees sick notes without regard to the consequences, they refuse to tell us over the phone the results of our tests, lost worker productivity waiting to see them is in the tens of millions of dollars, and the referral chain from GP to specialist is nothing short of a cash grab. Pharmacists and nurses are cheaper and more effective in many areas.
We don’t have too many nurses. We have too many nurses doing what less qualified people can be doing with a nurse supervisor. We have a home respite care system that is out of control where some get it all and others get nothing.
Let’s put politics aside and make tough decisions. We all know Joey Smallwood is famous for saying a politician’s primary responsibility is to get re-elected. Well, he was wrong! A politician’s primary responsibility is second, to his electorate and first, to the social and fiscal sustainability of the province as a whole.
Make the tough decisions before we become a shithole country like the United States!
P.S. My spouse is a NAPE member. I didn’t ask how she voted.