Population growth is not the end goal
By now you have likely heard that New Brunswick had a pretty good Census. Between 2016 and 2021, we added 28,500 to the population - a growth rate of 3.8%. This is good, but in my estimation we will need to bump that up to around 6.5% per Census period through 2041 if we are to hit the pop. goal of 1 million New Brunswickers.
We will also need good planning by region within New Brunswick to determine the workforce demand around the province - Moncton and Fredericton are on a sustainable growth path - most other areas not so much.
What is sustainable? Enough population growth to meet workforce demand - replacement demand and growth demand. We are now retiring at twice the annual rate compared to a few years ago and we have a number of industries that are in strong growth mode.
Kathryn Lockhart told Don Mills and I yesterday that this is the biggest threat to the growth of the province’s tech industries. Firms are starting to really struggle to find IT workers.
This is the ultimate point. Population growth is not an end in itself. If the number of residents increased to one million but 90% of them were retirees from the rest of Canada, that would have only exacerbated the economic and demographic challenges. Not that I have a problem with people retiring here. I plan on retiring here. What was the view outside your window this morning?
But we need workers and lots of them - probably something like 200,000+ by 2041 (for replacement and growth).
A million+ NBers by 2040 - with a good distribution around the province - will ensure sustainability for the next generation and beyond.
That’s the end goal. Government that can sustainably fund public services. Communities that have enough workers to ensure they can offer a wide variety of services that are attractive to residents. Export industries are not constrained by a lack of workers. Entrepreneurial opportunities that are filled.
It was a good week for New Brunswick. Let’s put the petal to the metal.