Well, tonight is the Ontario election debate and inevitably job creation will come up as a topic. On the one hand, Tim Hudak will have to deal with the fallout over his Million Jobs Plan. On the other hand, Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath will need to demonstrate what their plans for employment growth in the province are. Whether they will venture an estimate of how many jobs their policies will create will be an interesting question. To help everyone prepare for tonight’s clash of Ontario Titans, here is (an estimate of) average annual employment growth in Ontario from 1977 to 2013 with premiers and political affiliations duly noted.
Trying to guess which premier and political party might be associated with the most job creation can benefit from a look at past performance. For the entire period 1977 to 2013, annual average employment growth was 84,842. As the accompanying figure shows, the winner is the Conservative period of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, which saw average annual employment growth in Ontario of 133,167 jobs. Closely behind this period was the Liberal era of David Peterson, which saw an annual average of 130,464 jobs created. Third come the Conservatives of the Davis/Miller years at 92,814 and second last the Liberals under the leadership of McGuinty/Wynne at 77,443. Dead last is the five-year period of NDP rule under Bob Rae which comes in at an annual average of -16,388 jobs. Put another way, Davis/Miller, Peterson and Harris/Eves were above average. Rae and McGuinty/Wynne were below average.
Naturally, there are many extenuating economic factors that can be introduced to explain why these numbers are the way they are and I will leave it to others to make them. Yet, the picture presents a pretty stark and simple snapshot of which party is associated with the most job creation. While past performance is no guarantee of future performance, it can nevertheless be used as a signal. Its time to make some popcorn and settle in for tonight's ultimate reality show.