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Manitoba government accused of fudging job stats

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by Richard Gilbert last update:Oct 9, 2014

The New Democratic Party (NDP) government in Manitoba is being accused by the opposition of inaccurate job creation estimates to support this year's budget and the new five-year capital plan.

 

“The problem is that the NDP government’s misrepresentation of information is sort of like an infectious disease,” said Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard.

“Their non-factual releases are spreading like a virus, making their way into publications like this weekly letter of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, which I table.”

Gerrard made this statement in the Manitoba legislature on March 12 to express his concerns that the construction industry is being negatively affected by the NDP government’s unqualified promises of job creation.

The foundation of the 2014 Manitoba budget released on March 6 is a new $5.5 billion five-year capital plan.

The Manitoba government hired the Conference Board of Canada to produce a study on the economic impact of the plan.

It predicts project expenditures for the plan will generate a total of about 58,900 person-years of employment.

“What we are talking about is a temporary project, which involves the Manitoba government spending a total of about $5.5 billion,” said Pedro Antunes, an executive director and deputy chief economist with the Conference Board of Canada.

“This first piece is essentially looking at the Manitoba government’s commitment to spend money and what that will do in terms of job creation in construction and wider impacts on the economy.”

“This first piece is essentially looking at the Manitoba government’s commitment to spend money and what that will do in terms of job creation in construction and wider impacts on the economy.”

A person year is a unit of measurement, used by economists, to calculate the amount of work done by one person in a year. It consists of a standard number of person-days.

The 58,900 figure reported in the study is a cumulative number of person-years of employment that will be created over the five-year program.

Gerrard pointed out in the legislature that person years and jobs are not the same thing.

“According to NDP math, if one person was employed in the first year and stayed employed for the next four years that person would be counted five times,” he said.

“The problem is that if these were permanent jobs the maximum number you would create is 14,000, less than 25 per cent of the 58,000 this NDP government is misrepresenting.”

Winnipeg resident Dave Routhier used Twitter to become the first person to point out the numbers are not correct.

In response to these claims, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said in the legislature that the Conference Board of Canada has been very clear.

“Every year, there will be jobs created in Manitoba over the next five years: 8,500 in year one, 11,100 in year two, 12,500 in year three and 13,400 in each of years four and five,” he said. “Add it up: 58,900 jobs, good jobs for Manitobans, good for–future for Manitobans.”

In reality, the study breaks down the total person-years of employment to estimate the number of actual jobs created in 2014 (8,500), 2015 (11,100), 2016 (12,500) and in both 2017 and 2018 (13,400).

This works out to an average of 11,780 jobs per year.

So, at its peak in 2017 and 2018 the infrastructure spending is anticipated to support 13,400 jobs.

The opposition PC party called for the government to admit that they either don’t understand the study or they are being dishonest.

“The NDP government has falsified the jobs numbers from its five year infrastructure sham,” said PC jobs and the economy critic Heather Stefanson. “Even though the deputy chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada is contradicting the government, the NDP refuse to apologize or correct the false information it is spreading.”

During the release of this year’s budget and five-year plan, the Manitoba government repeatedly used the wrong figures and overestimated the number of jobs being created. The government has yet to offer a retraction or correct the mistake and the misleading information is still being presented on both the government and NDP websites.

The capital plan will create 21,800 person years of construction employment, which represents a large share of total person-years of employment (58,900).

When this is broken down, the plan will create 2,800 construction jobs in 2014, 4,100 in 2015, 4,900 in 2017 and 5,000 jobs in both 2017 and 2018.

The Conference Board of Canada is currently working on a study for the Manitoba government to calculate the permanent jobs that will be created by the five-year plan.

last update:Oct 9, 2014

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