Resources in the North

Prime Minister Harper is up in the North for his yearly visit and has been promoting the land for future resource extraction especially based on the new law his government passed that necessitates only one environmental study before any new projects. He has been detailing how new resource projects are the key to ending native unemployment in the north and bringing jobs and prosperity to the region.

It got me thinking- is resource extraction something that brings jobs to locals? While the romantic images are of thousands of men staking claims along rivers and panning for gold, or going in and out of mines with pickaxes, I’d wager that in Canada the vast majority of this work is now done by highly skilled engineers with expensive equipment. In many ways that’s great, it means that mining is much more productive and that we can create much more wealth from far fewer working hours leaving more for everyone to enjoy. This is how we moved from a society that spent all of its time farming simply to subsist to being able to diversify and enjoy the wealth that is all around.

The issue is that I doubt that many of these new jobs are actually ones that will directly bring unemployment down. There are just not enough people in the regions to produce the skilled workers need and so instead there will be a large influx of people from the outside. That’s not such a bad thing, these newcomers will need to have housing, food, supplies, and everything else that they can buy with their wages so for those not so inclined to working in the sector there will be other jobs. What I’m interesting in knowing is how much of this extra are the different communities able to capture or if the windfall comes more from the royalties paid with everything brought from the ground.


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