Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Clement's Monday spending announcement not what it seemed

Tony Clement in the House of Commons yesterday, putting on record for the nation the "Harper Government's" big funding announcement in Mississauga yesterday afternoon with specific references to job creation figures:
Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): The hon. member is quite correct, Mr. Speaker. That is exactly what I and the member for Mississauga—Erindale did earlier today. We announced a major investment by the Government of Canada through a repayable contribution but also by the industry itself, a $1 billion R and D investment in the aerospace sector. That translates into 700 jobs for research and development and over 2,000 jobs when it comes to the actual production phase.

We are in favour of research and development, whether it comes to F-35s or whether it comes to the aerospace industry. We are onside with the aerospace sector. When will the Liberals do the same?
700 jobs for R & D, Tony? And "over 2,000 jobs when it comes to the actual production phase?" That sounds like 2,700 new jobs. Hmmm. Lucky us. Reporters actually did the work of following up on the big show: "Pratt & Whitney deal not quite as advertised." That's right, not quite:
The government announcement also claims the deal will "create and maintain an average of more than 700 highly skilled jobs during the project work phase, and more than 2,000 jobs during the 15-year benefits phase."

The company later explained that it hopes to hire about 200 new staff for the research and development project, expected to take about five years.

At $300 million from taxpayers, that works out to $300,000 a year per job.

As for the rest of the jobs, Clement's press secretary, Lynn Meahan, explained that "hypothetically, without the project, the workforce would have shrunk."

She said the promised 2,000 long-term jobs would come from manufacturing the new engines yet to be developed, and it is not clear how many of those positions, if any, would be new.
More from another CBC report on the actual job creation numbers:
A company spokeswoman, however, said just 200 new jobs will be created, while the rest will be "maintained." It wasn't immediately clear whether some of the remaining 500 jobs might have otherwise disappeared. Pratt & Whitney laid off employees last year because of weak markets.
So it's not really 700 new R & D jobs, as the government is representing. It's more like 200 new jobs. It's an average of 700 highly skilled jobs that will be "created" and "maintained" over the life of this project in the government's clever-speak that nevertheless gives the distinct impression to all listening that the number they should fixate on is 700. Yet the company is saying 200. In other reporting, CTV, Canadian Press and the Sun, the company is also described as currently hiring 200 engineers.

So where does the 700 figure even come from? It's not in the Pratt & Whitney company announcement either. Why not? Shouldn't the government numbers match the company's?

As for the 2,000 additional jobs, it's sounding like they're not new at all, just a stopgap to ensure that existing jobs don't depart. But that's certainly not the way it was portrayed yesterday by Clement in the House of Commons. Nor in the media.

From 2,700 to 200.

You have to wonder whether, as a condition of the largesse, the government is allowed to say whatever it likes and the company execs go along and politely clap. Meanwhile, those workers sitting there in the hangar have the wool pulled completely over their eyes. As does the public.