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.
You are right, David, of course... more people mean a more vibrant economy, provided they are productive. The problem every jurisdiction faces is how to filter out the people they don't want, and encourage those they want and need.
We could use the stick; we can close the door to those we think will damage us and open it to those who will benefit us. But democracy gets in the way, as we see in the U.S. We could take the Trump approach and blatantly construct barriers targetted to stop those we don't want, but human rights gets in the way of that.
So what is the answer? How do we get industrious people who want or have an education, people who believe in helping others, working for the whole of society and not just themselves? We use the carrot approach.
The description of the people we want is not in a sentence or a paragraph, it is a thick book. They will be a diverse group, with many talents. We need people to sweep the floor, especially people who will do a good job, as much as we need scientists with doctorate degrees. We need entrepreneurs who will risk everything, and we need 'unskilled' labourers who have no aspirations beyond their snowmobile on Saturday and football on Sunday. We need to be genuinely colour blind and religiously agnostic.
What we need for a carrot is what we already have... a place that attracts those we want, not those we don't want. If we want people who care about others, we must set an example; if we want people who do their work without complaining, we need to appreciate that our work is important and worth doing well, no matter what we do; and we need to stop complaining. Our politicians can't 'fix' the health care system if everyone has a different opinion about what is wrong with it and insists that it be changed to suit their vision. We must prove that we appreciate our environment by continuing projects like the Fundy trail, the Trans-Canada Trail, our national and provincial parks, and of course, my favourite, Cape Enrage.
The picture out your window is beautiful, David, and scenes like that are replicated all over our beautiful province. I live in an apartment and this morning I watched two deer playing in the back yard. The apartment is five minutes from the Avenir centre in Moncton, where I can watch the next crop of NHL players hone their skills—and I can't hear a car horn on the street. We step out of our building onto a walking trail that is ploughed all winter, and people who are younger than I am put on their skis in the back yard and ski forever. And I curl on ice that is as good as any in Canada, with people who don't have an unkind word to say.
We must show that what we have is what is worthwhile, and everyone can afford it. The people we want are those who want what we have, not people who want to change it. If you are a disturber of norms for the sake of change, a bigot, a racist or someone who wants to tear down and rebuild our democracy in an autocratic image, please stay away—there is a place for you further south. We're too busy enjoying life to waste time dealing with your petulance.