Do Guelph’s high taxes and debt create good paying jobs?

With interest the unemployment rate in Guelph is the lowest in the country (4.1 per cent). The source is Statistics Canada. An unemployment rate in Canada of 5 per cent is considered full employment by the federal government.

Is Guelph a Mecca for well paying jobs or is the figure fudged to create a false atmosphere of employment security?

Let’s drill down and examine the facts. Guelph is a civil service town. When you lump in the estimated 4,500 employees who are serving the public, it skews the real number of those who work in the private sector.

Public sector jobs are secured by contract and Guelph’s beleaguered taxpayers are on the hook for paying their salary packages. Why are taxpayers “beleaguered”?  With one of the highest municipal tax rates in Ontario, and the third highest debt per capita, the body of taxpayers is carrying an unfair load in terms of compensating those public sector employees. It’s basic math.

The problem is that the private employers cannot match the benefits packages enjoyed by those chewing on the public purse. Take the city hall employees now numbering more than 1,400. They receive 24 (count ‘em) benefits that any worker in Walmart or Linamar would dream to have. Paid parking comes to mind.

Who are these public sector employees? Let’s start with the university, the provincial government, the federal government, city staff, police, firemen, EMS, teachers, administrators, librarians and curators.

Often overlooked is the decline of single income families in which the partners must both work to make ends meet.

If anyone wonders why the disparity of wages and benefits between the public sector and private sector has widened in Canada then one does not have to look further than the City of Guelph.

While the Mayor and Chamber of Commerce President pat themselves on the back about job creation in the city, you can now see where and what kind of jobs are being created.

There is an increase in retail employment, small business start-ups and low-paying health and elderly care jobs. These are mostly minimum wage jobs going to women. There is no union to protect their interests. They are exposed to the marketplace.

The mayor extols the creation of technical and information development jobs, but the statement rings hollow.

Only an aggressive private development program can create new opportunities outside the  “private sector shield” that exists in Guelph. There has been a failure to promote the Hanlon Business Park to promote innovation and development for the electronic age. It is an example of the administration’s dismal record of boosting job creation to create well-paying jobs in the private sector.

The city was severely criticized for making it difficult for business to establish. The Mayor says now that has changed.

Perhaps they should look at how commercial development in the east end of the city has been neglected for five years. There is no commercial hub promised five years ago to offer residents the opportunity to shop without having to drive to Eramosa and Stevenson, the closest commercial hub.

Peter Cartwright, the senior development manager at City Hall, has concentrated on development of commercial projects in the south end of the city. Maybe he should get out of his office and drive over to see the burgeoning residential development on the east side of the city.

The Quarrie Council recognized the need for commercial nodes to serve in the new growing areas of the city. The majority on the Farbridge council has ignored the need for a commercial hub in the east end of the city.

Let’s not hear any more statements from the Mayor and Chamber President Lloyd Longfield about Guelph’s low unemployment rate being great news.

Pay more attention to the quality of those jobs.

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