Shock would be one word to describe reaction to the announcement Monday that Michelin North America will be cutting a total of 500 jobs at its plant in Granton, Pictou County. At the same time, such news comes less and less as a surprise as we continually see the loss of traditional manufacturing jobs in Canada.
With 200 positions affected as of this June and another 300 a year afterward, this is a blow not only to the largely rural county, but to northern Nova Scotia in general as it grapples with job loss and a drain on population. If each job directly impacts several family members, the loss affects many more than 500.
Our primary sympathies are for those people.
The change as stated by the company is diminishing demand for smaller tires, 14-, 15- and 16-inch, adding that upgrades at the plant for a production change wouldn’t be cost-effective. In the realm of manufacturing, some might second-guess this and wonder whether a factor is that such tires can be manufactured for less cost elsewhere.
That’s the prevailing judgment expressed as factory jobs are lost in this country, but it’s a trend we’re not likely to see reversed. Nothing lasts forever.
One comment that will pop up in relation to a rough turn of events like this is demands for political leadership.
But people need to keep in mind that private enterprise is just that – private. We’ve been through the exercise in the last couple of years of governments pitching public money at private corporations, and that obviously is not a long-term solution.
In fact, with the Ivany report fresh in mind, one of the cautions raised was that Nova Scotians need to get away from the mindset of counting on government to cure all ills.
Government’s role is to make the province a good place to set up business. Again, with reference to the Ivany report, the positive direction is to focus on learning, on research and development, while trying to identify the jobs of the future and attract them.