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Fort Mac for hire


In a province that claims to have so much to offer, why is the west still getting our other halves and our best workers? I've recently joined the majority of a growing group and provincial problem - the outmigration of our valued family members and workers heading to employment with oil sand giants like Syncrude and Suncor. Names that are as popular in the conversations of everyday people as the weather and the news.

Figure of speech -

In a province that claims to have so much to offer, why is the west still getting our other halves and our best workers?

I've recently joined the majority of a growing group and provincial problem - the outmigration of our valued family members and workers heading to employment with oil sand giants like Syncrude and Suncor. Names that are as popular in the conversations of everyday people as the weather and the news.

I recently had to part at the airport with my partner as he headed to the Fort McMurray oil sands on Air Canada Flight 1197 out of St. John's. The St. John's to Toronto to Fort McMurray flight - also known as the "Newfie Express" has been an exodus of loved ones from this province since April 2006.

Jokingly known as the "mini Newfoundland", the city has attracted workers since big companies and big money have surfaced to surpass income some people could only dream of years prior to their Fort McMurray journey.

Having been there myself, I'm safe on saying that there are more Newfoundlander's and Labradorians per square kilometre in Fort McMurray then in any other city and any other province out west. Plus, where else would you find a club named the "Newfie Bar" in the heart of downtown?

It's sad to think about the number of families who on a regular basis have to say goodbye time and time again to their loved ones - just so a family can have a supplement to an income or have any income at all for that matter.

In a "have" province, why must families experience the loneliness or desperation of such a sacrifice? Where a mother or father miss their child's first words or graduation, because they can't afford to skip work.

And yes, I'm not as naive to think that there aren't individuals who jump at the chance to head west for the oil sands and all its riches. A trip to Alberta seems to almost be a rite of passage for many young people of this province. Maybe they come back, maybe they don't.

You can't blame them, when an advertised rate for a convenience store worker starts at $14.95 an hour and the typical annual salary for a giant tandem driver on site is $100,000 +.

Then you have the 'turnarounds', where men and women fly in and out of camps on days off - coming home to see family and friends often for 10 days at a time, then returning for another three weeks of work. Turnarounds have proven successful for some, but are hard on families with young children especially.

It seems these days The Rock's most precious resources isn't the forestry or the fishing industry - but the tar sands located some 3,954 kilometers away. It's an upsetting fate - losing our younger trained workers, our older experienced workers and our loved ones to employment opportunities out west.

My only hope is that there will come a day where staying home will profit families just as much or even more then if they headed west. I may not see it in my day, but becoming a have province has to mean something - right?

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