Top News

‘Small business can’t compete with government’


When it comes to small business in rural Newfoundland and Labrador there are always challenges, but according to one businessman, perhaps the biggest hurdle rural businesses face is provincial government.

Maurice Simmonds with Maurice’s Service Centre in St. Anthony says skilled employee retention becomes a challenge when provincial government puts out the call for jobs – whether that be through Hydro, Transportation and Works and projects such as Muskrat Falls.
“When you lose a skilled employee now, nine times out of 10 they are gone to something related to government, because they have established wages and benefits that small business can not compete with,” said Simmonds.
Recently he lost two employees – a heavy equipment operator and an automotive technician – to government jobs.
“You can’t fault someone for wanting to make a higher wage, and it’s great that govent is establishing a bench mark, but there shouldn’t be such a huge gap between what I can offer and what they are paying at Muskrat Falls for what is basically the same job.”
Simmonds says being unable to compete with government is causing rural Newfoundland and Labrador to suffer.
“In St. Anthony we are constantly running into the problem of trying to fill jobs, even in the service sector, and that effects what we can offer,” he said.
To bring things back around, he says government has to start reinvesting in rural communities, putting in infrastructure and money that creates meaningful employment and rebuilding existing resources – such as hospital positions and Coast Guard Radio.
Coming up with rural incentives would go a long way as well, he says.
“If you work in St. Anthony, for example, provide a bonus of some kind,” he said. “That creates interest in coming here and it will certainly help with retention.”
Reintroduction of the Northern Living Deduction should be explored as well.
The Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development did not respond by deadline.

Maurice Simmonds with Maurice’s Service Centre in St. Anthony says skilled employee retention becomes a challenge when provincial government puts out the call for jobs – whether that be through Hydro, Transportation and Works and projects such as Muskrat Falls.
“When you lose a skilled employee now, nine times out of 10 they are gone to something related to government, because they have established wages and benefits that small business can not compete with,” said Simmonds.
Recently he lost two employees – a heavy equipment operator and an automotive technician – to government jobs.
“You can’t fault someone for wanting to make a higher wage, and it’s great that govent is establishing a bench mark, but there shouldn’t be such a huge gap between what I can offer and what they are paying at Muskrat Falls for what is basically the same job.”
Simmonds says being unable to compete with government is causing rural Newfoundland and Labrador to suffer.
“In St. Anthony we are constantly running into the problem of trying to fill jobs, even in the service sector, and that effects what we can offer,” he said.
To bring things back around, he says government has to start reinvesting in rural communities, putting in infrastructure and money that creates meaningful employment and rebuilding existing resources – such as hospital positions and Coast Guard Radio.
Coming up with rural incentives would go a long way as well, he says.
“If you work in St. Anthony, for example, provide a bonus of some kind,” he said. “That creates interest in coming here and it will certainly help with retention.”
Reintroduction of the Northern Living Deduction should be explored as well.
The Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development did not respond by deadline.

Recent Stories