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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 5, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta ___________________________________ _ Wednesday, April 5, 1772 THE IETHBRIOGE KERAID 31 Create jobs and build sound, new economies Twin goals for Depart ional Expansion i A By GAHRY FAIKRA1RN' OTTAWA (CP) The De- partment of Regional Eco- nomic Expansion has under- taken the twin goals o! creat- ing jobs in depressed areas and building sound new econ- omies there. c' In (he department's view, real progress is being made. Critics suggest the depart- ment is dome mediocre work in creating jobs nnd almost nothing to restructure the economies of regions such as the Atlantic province's. Some, say politically-damaging un- employment figures have sidetracked DREG'S I o n g- term development strategy. Last year, Die Atlantic De- velopment Council reducing Atlantic unemploy- ment to between four and '1.5 per cent by 1881, creating jobs. In January, Regional Ex- pansion Minister Jean Mar- chand refused to acccpl such specific targets although lie approved of the council's gen- eral goals: rationalization of primary industries, increased processing of nalural re- sources, more secondary manufacturing, and improved programs lo help service in- dustries. CALLED T.IVIvAWAV The AtlaniJc Provinces Eco- nomic Council said Ihe rejcc- t i o n ''reinforces suspicions that DREE is nothing more llian a well-trained give-away program lhat is extended or retracted according to the economic and political exigen- cies of the moment." Con.scrvalivo MP James McGralh said DRKE has failed "lo put an end to Ihe ad-lioc, Band-Aid approach lo regional development." 'The program is badly ad- ministered. II reacts lo politi- cal silualions where il should lie reacting on basis of e e o n o in i c s and regional needs." lias high unemployment di- verted tlie department frotn its goal of restructuring (he economics of depressed J'rejis? "That certainly is a legiti- mate criticism." an official suid, "but on the other hand, one could respond: 'Well, what the hell else could you do'' Tlie cabinet probably felt Ihe department was the nalu- ral not the only lead the fight against unemployment, ho said. Another senior official, how- ever, said he is not sure the department has been given the role of fighting short term unemployment. 'Iliat goal in- voh-cd broad economic poli- cies which were not DUEL'S responsibilities. Mr. Mnrchand lold the Commons regional develop- ment committee lhat tlie pur- poses of DREW are "to create johs, eventually to put in place infrastructures and lo buiM new manufactures and new plants." "This is the whole purpose of the department. It is a job- oricntcd department." By Jan. 31, departmental grants for helping depressed areas totalled to industrialists. DREE officials expect permanent jobs di- rectly created by these grants to tolal Dr. T. N. Drcwis of Carle- ton University said a real problem for "DREE is the dash between jobs now and Ihe need for long-term changes. "If you have a more effi- cient industry in some parts of the lagging areas, you're not going to have growth in your labor force. You'ra going to have a reduction in your labor force." But DREB said its solution favors the future. One senior bureaucratic view: "If you're faced as a country with a choice between modernization and rationaliza- tion, which is going to allow you to keep 200 out of 300 jobs, or no modernization and no rationalization which may result n year down Ihe read in closure and the loss of 300 jobs then, surely from the point of view of employment in that particular which is not the only consider- ation-hut purely from that point of view Ihe choice is ob- vious." SAID DOING NOTH1NT. Atlantic council officials said the department's incen- tives arc doing nothing lo change the area's industrial pattern. They said grants are going mostly for expansion in existing industries like foods, beverages and wood products. Their studies in 1070 showed that 40.5 per cent of Atlantic area grants went lo food and beverage operations which al- ready made up 30 per cent of the region's manufacturing activity. Such figures lead critics' to say DREE is just reinforcing current patterns of industry, which have proved inadequate. One former officer paid money spent on development in depressed areas would have been better spent stimu- lating Ihe Ontario economy v.bich, in turn, would benefit the Atlantic area. STILL HOPEFUL But most department offi- cials continue to express op- timism that the program's benefits will he apparent in five years or so. They pin a great deal of hope on experi- mental programs, notably the Multiplex Development Corp. in Saint John, N.H., a planned Newfoundland Development Coip. and a proposed special agcncv lo promote develop- ment in the Halifax-Dart- mouth area. 'Hie success of Ihe develop- ment corporation approach will be measured by Ihe num- ber of firms aUracled; by that lest their efficiency is still in doubt. Saint John Multiplex, which hopes lo develop an integrated group of mutually-supporting industries, so far has at- tracted only one company. DRKE officials recognize the uncertainties involved in implementing an untried idea but Ihey argue: "There's a danger in doing anything about regional disparities so if you're not prepared to take some risks you shouldn't bo in ths game." New Democrat MP John Burton said there should be a greater reliance on publicly- owned corporations. Conserv- ative MIJ James McGrath said he accepted government development agencies hut not government-operated Indus- try. In debate on the Incentives program, New Democratic fi- nance critic "Max Bailsman called it "bribery on a mas- sive scale." "Why don't we go into busi- ness ourselves if we arc pro- j pared to spend that kind of money'.'" DKKK takes a compromise approach: In Multiplex, for example, public corporations will be used only (o "fill in the gaps'1 in Uie planned in- dustrial complex. One official said the depart- ment is not considering the alxindonmcnl of private capi- tal in its development sirat- egy. "I don't think it's an issue cf private capital versus lic capital. I think it's :m issue cf bow you can combine '.liesc two things most cffc-c- tively to get Ibo desired re- sult.'1 Another faclor in the role of private capital is the award- ing of more than a quarter o! all grant allocations lo for- eign-controlled firms. By last SoptemtKT, foreign-controlled companies had received 542.B million in incentive grants for expanding or starting opera- tions in Canada. DREE officials deny their grants are encouraging the U.S. takeover of Canadian in- dustry. One said the eventual reduction of regional disparity mil moan less Canadian reli- ance on foreign investment. 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