President's Report 2006 | Community

Harris Centre releases report on federal presence

The federal government’s presence in Newfoundland and Labrador has declined significantly since the early 1990s. That was the conclusion to an extensive new report issued last fall by Memorial’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional and Policy Development (Harris Centre). The report, released on Nov. 22, chronicled the federal government’s presence in this province between 1981 and 2004. It examined changes in federal government employment, wages and salaries, spending, and military personnel over the past 25 years. Federal employment in the province has decreased by almost 25 per cent since 1981 compared with a nationwide decrease of only five per cent. Practically all that 25 per cent decline occurred between 1993 and 1999. Since 1993 the number of people employed by the federal government in Newfoundland and Labrador has fallen substantially, from approximately 10,250 in 1993 to 6,970 in 2004. That is a 32 per cent decline. At a time when federal employment across Canada was increasing, (1997-2004) the province lost 11 per cent of its federal positions. In terms of senior staff with decision-making authority and representation of provincial interests, Newfoundland and Labrador is significantly underrepresented in proportion to its population and fares far worse than all the other provinces. Only about 0.8 per cent of the total number of executive positions in Canada are located in the province which is less than one-half of its share of the nation's population. Military presence in the province is slightly less than the province’s portion of the population however the majority (64 per cent) of personnel are reservists and do not constitute full-time positions. Federal expenditures on goods and services, while they have increased since 1981, have not kept pace with nationwide increases in expenditures. That has caused the province’s share of federal expenditures to decline. This report was prepared by Alison Coffin under the direction of Dr. James Feehan, Department of Economics, Faculty of Arts, Memorial University, and was made possible with the help of a contribution from the Crosbie Group of Companies.

Dr. Robert Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre, highlighted that “this is just one of many reports that the Harris Centre will release on issues of public importance in regional policy and development. Memorial University's faculty, staff and students represent an enormous resource for high quality, independent research and analysis.” Copies of the report can be found on the Harris Centre’s web site.