As NB companies become more global, I still hope for a little home team bias
One of the things I love about Newfoundland and Labrador is the idea that “once a Newfoundlander/Labradorian always a Newfoundlander/Labradorian”. When announcing a big offshore oil project a few years ago, the Premier said this is for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians no matter where they live in the world.
This struck me. I had never heard a New Brunswick Premier talk about expatriate New Brunswickers that way. Are you still a herring choker even if you have lived in Ontario or Alberta for decades?
Now the Rock is calling all its daughters and sons home for the “Come Home Year” in 2022. One of the quotes in the campaign? “There is nothing that quite compares to coming home to Newfoundland and Labrador”. I get goosebumps. Read more about that campaign here.
I could be wrong but I suspect there is not going to be such an initiative for expatriate New Brunswickers although it is important to note that some cultural groups within this province have the same feel notably the Acadians who get out the cultural magnet every year and draw back descendants of the Belliveaus, Boudreaus, LeBlancs, and Surettes.
As New Brunswick becomes more global I hope we can do more to strengthen what it means to be a New Brunswickers - to encourage people to be thankful for this place and to feel vested in helping it prosper into the future.
With this in mind, I would like to ask New Brunswick firms to have a bit of a home team bias.
I have been watching an increasing number of locally-based firms recruiting staff online by telling them “they can work from anywhere” and “no need to relocate to New Brunswick”. Most of these firms built there businesses here either by developing local markets or with the help of government grants/loans or other supports.
It would be nice if these job advertisements would at least say something like “we would love to have you move to New Brunswick but we understand if circumstances don’t allow it” or something similar.
I know many of you will roll your eyes at this. NB companies need to compete and need to hire staff wherever they can. In fact, hiring staff in other provinces and countries helps firms with their global expansion ambitions.
I understand this and am not suggesting companies should avoid setting up offices in other jurisdictions. NB-based companies should be expanding their global footprint and, hopefully, running things from the head office here.
But when hiring ‘remote’ workers, it means no/little income spent in New Brunswick and household income is the backbone of the provincial economy. It is the source of tax revenue that governments used to pay for the public services that people demand. If our own firms start hiring en masse in other markets for jobs that used to be located in New Brunswick, it will harm economic development and could imperil our quality of life moving forward.
So, maybe we can’t aspire to be like Newfoundland and Labrador. Maybe your heart rate doesn’t speed up when you see pictures of Saint Andrews, the Fundy Trail or Miscou Island. Maybe expatriates are not longing for New Brunswick’s rolling hills, moose and maple syrup.
But for those of us here, this place is home. It sustained us through our careers. It provided the foundation for us to achieve our family and career goals. For younger New Brunswickers and newcomers it will be the foundation for your future family and career goals.
The next 10 to 20 years are going to be tricky for places like New Brunswick.
A little home team bias won’t be a bad thing.