The socioeconomic disparities are one of the main determinants of developments in regions. The unequal distributions of the national resources make certain region to develop at the expense of others. This sees the government undertake major projects in given locations, while neglecting others, resulting in an unequal growth and development. While an area may have natural resources, they may fail to benefit the country. This is because such locations lack the necessary infrastructure leading to the natural resources, making it difficult to have them exploited. The inequality in growth and development can be conceptualised from the theory of core and peripheral theory.
The core regions are characterised by accelerating growth and development of transport and communication network, education institutions, and other key installations. One of the key characteristics is that the population is also likely to be higher in the core regions compared to the peripherals. This is explained by the immigration of people as they seek better jobs and higher living standards in the core regions. On the other hand, the peripheral regions are characterised by low population, and underdevelopment. This is despite the fact that these regions may be rich in good weather and natural resources. To help in understanding the differences between the core and peripheral regions, the discussion shall focus on Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Core and periphery theory
The theory states that there exists a discrepancy are socioeconomic development between regions owing to a number of factors (Christoph, 2010). Certain regions take long, or never achieve the heartland status, owing to the inequitable growth and development (Bone, 2012). One of the main factors leading to this challenge has been the inequitable distribution of resources required to develop a region. According to the theory, one of the major characteristics of the core regions is the presence of massive developments, especially in terms of infrastructure.
The growth and development of the transportation and communication development is a major characteristic. The government also encourages urbanization and industrialization in the core regions (Christoph, 2010). This explains why the population is likely to be higher in the core regions, as immigration increases. This is because people are looking for employment opportunities, education institutions and other social amenities that are not common in the periphery regions. One other outstanding factor of the core regions is that they dominate on the peripherals. There is a central kind of government, whose seat is in the core regions. This explains why the peripheral regions remain dependent, isolated and underprivileged. According to the theory, while the peripheral parts may have a lot of resources, they always remain unexploited owing to lack of necessary infrastructure and political goodwill.
The core/periphery situation in Canada
Statistics indicate that there has been inequitable distribution of resources, growth and development of resources in Canada (Bone, 2012). This has seen the government concentrate its resources in certain regions at the expense of others. For instance, places such as Quebec and Ontario have witnessed exponential growth and development as compared to Atlantic Canada. This is despite the latter having more resources, and favorable climatic conditions that are yet to be exploited. The current discrepancy in terms of development explains the main reason why immigration has become common in Canada (Christoph, 2010). Large population has been moving from the peripheral regions to the core regions in search of various social amenities.
Characteristics that make Ontario and Quebec Core
As indicated before, one of the main characteristics of core regions is that they have a high population. With higher income and higher living standard, the population growth is high. One of the other contributing factors is that the rate of immigration is also likely to be higher as the people look for employment opportunities. Currently, statistics indicate that the population in Ontario and Quebec is at about 13.6 and 8.2 million respectively (Christoph, 2011). They are among the urban centers with the highest populations, despite the fact that they are not the largest. The population in Ontario is the highest in Canada, while that of Quebec is the second highest. One of the characteristics is that there the population is made of people from different cultural grounds. This is attributed to current of immigration into these cities. Apart from the employment motives, other reasons are that number of people are seeking for institutions of higher learning. The two cities have some of the best and many institutions of higher learning.
The economic and political activities taking place can tell whether the region is the core or peripheral. The core regions have increased government presence, and this is characterised by various projects and institutions that have been established. In both Ontario and Quebec, the government has set a number of major projects. This includes the clean energy projects set in Ontario. For instance, the government has used billions of dollars to support the
Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, which is said to be one of the largest in the world. In Quebec, the growth in science and technology prompted the government to set up the Canadian Space Agency. This region is said to be a scientific hub, with publication of over 9 million since 2000, touching on various sectors such as medicine, physics and engineering. The government has also embarked on a tree planting project in Ontario, which is meant to response to global warming in the country.
The government has also spent millions of dollars in the support of more education facilities and other social amenities. For instance, there are about 22 public universities, 24 public colleges, and more than 500 privately owned institutions of higher learning. This explains why a huge number of students from other regions will flock in Ontario. The same situation is observed in Quebec, where the government has ensured that all the institutions of higher learning are well equipped, and provide the best education. All these activities show the superiority of the core regions as compared to the peripheral ones.
Transportation and communication network
This is one of the major determining factors of whether a region is core or not. The core regions superior communication and transportation networks, which facilitate business activities. In Ontario and Quebec, the government has spent substantial amount of public funds to construct roads and railway lines that play a huge role in responding to the congestion challenge. The presence of high speed trains in Ontario shows how the government is determined to ensure that it facilitates sustainable growth and development. The economic growth is facilitated by the presence of an elaborate transport and communication network. There is a need to ensure that people and goods are able to move from one place to another at ease. The government also knows that this is one of the best strategies to attract investors in such regions. In Quebec, there is about 185,000 km of roads connecting different places in the region. This is in addition to about 6,678 km of railway line assisting in the transportation of goods and people. Further, the region has about 43 airports, showing the dominance of Quebec. On the other hand Ontario has roads, railway, waterways and airways that have facilitated the growth and development of the economy.
The core regions are characterised by their high economic development. Both Ontario and Quebec have the highest GDP in the region. In terms of GDP, Ontario and Quebec had C$654 and C$345 respectively in 2011. In Ontario, the economic growth has been attributed to high number of local and international investors. The region has car production plants, which has seen Ontario manufacture luxury vehicles such as Chrysler. Despite the effects of the 2007/08 economic downturn, the unemployment rate has been below 8%. In Quebec, it is estimated that the region contributes about 20.5% of the total GDP in Canada. The region has also a plan that is meant to create more than 115,000 jobs by 2017, which will address the challenge of unemployment.
Characteristics that make Atlantic Canada peripheral
In terms of population, the region has witnessed a slow growth. Currently, there are about 2.5 million people living in the region. The population is too low compared to the size of the region and that of Ontario and Quebec.
The low population growth rate has been attributed to the unattractive nature of the region, where most of the social amenities remain significantly underdeveloped. With fewer institutions of higher learning, and lower employment opportunities, the region has been unable to attract immigrants. The government activities are also lower in these regions, which is one of the main characteristics for the peripheral areas.
This is another factor that demonstrates that Atlantic Canada is indeed a peripheral region. This owes to the fact that the region has witnessed slow economic growth and development despite the presence of resources. For instance, some major resources include fishing, mining, forestry and farming. The region is also rich in different minerals, hence can increase employment opportunities through mining. The region has also one of the best climatic condition that support agriculture, and also good for tourism. Despite all these conditions, the government has done little to exploit the resources. This explains why the unemployment in the region is above 10%. The lower economic growth in this region has seen most of the investors seek to invest in Quebec and Ontario.
In conclusion, the core and peripheral regions are different in terms of social, economic and political development. The core regions appear superior in all these factors. One of the outstanding factors is that the core regions have superior transport and communication network, and also the highest populations. While they may have abundant resources, the peripheral regions remain unexploited. Ontario and Quebec are referred to as the core regions owing to their current economic and social development. They have the highest GDP, population and infrastructural developments. On the contrary, the Atlantic Canada has witnessed slow growth rate, despite the fact that it has a lot of resources, and a promising tourism business.
- Bone, R. M. (2012). The Canadian north: Issues and challenges. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press
- Christoph, S. (2010).Core areas and peripheral regions of Canada: Landscapes of contrast and challenge, Salzburg University, Austria.