Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has promised to create one million jobs over eight years and plans to introduce his Million Jobs Act Bill in the Ontario Legislature when it resumes sitting on February 18th. Tim Hudak is presenting a five-point plan in his private member’s bill to create jobs that includes among other things encouraging more people into skilled trades, increasing trade with other provinces and reducing red tape. Given the precarious minority government environment Ontario is in, this looks like a major platform plank for Tim Hudak in what looks like a spring election.
So is one million jobs over eight years a reasonable goal? Let’s take a look at past performance. Well, one million jobs over an eight-year period results in an average of 125,000 jobs a year. Figure 1 plots Ontario annual average monthly employment growth (from Statistics Canada: v2066997 Ontario; Total employed, all classes of workers; Both sexes; Seasonally adjusted) from 1976 to 2013 and then also plots the Hudak annual average job numbers from 2014 to 2022 (which by the way is nine years and actually results in 1,125,000 jobs but Ontario needs all the jobs it can get).
Over the period 1976 to 2013, annual change in employment (an estimate of jobs created or lost) ranges from a high of 187,350 (in 1988) to a low of -177,692 (in 1991). Tim Hudak’s numbers when converted into an annual average certainly fit in this range. However, annual average job growth over the entire 1976 to 2013 is only 84,842 jobs. One of the best periods for job growth in Ontario was the period just after the early 1990s recession to the start of the McGuinty period – coinciding with the Harris-Eves era. The average annual employment growth from 1995 to 2003 was 133,167. However, this was a boom period fueled by falling taxes, the American consumer, low interest rates and a low dollar. Another employment growth high was the late 1980s – another boom period. The period from 1984 to 1990 saw an average of 135,000 jobs annually.
Mr. Hudak’s job growth numbers are certainly possible but they appear to coincide with the upper end of performance when it comes to Ontario employment growth. Mr. Hudak is aiming for a boom.