Fighting over people, Canada-style

As you know, my biggest annoyance about Canada over the past 15 years has been the breathtakingly deep disparity between the economic growth in a few regions of this country compared to everywhere else. Since 1991, the population of Canada has grown by almost 5 million people. This population growth has been coupled with an unprecedented economic growth. But, almost incredibly, New Brunswick is actually losing population. And we are not alone. Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, northern Ontario, most of Quebec (outside Montreal), Manitoba and Saskatchewan all have population challenges.

And how are the ‘rich’ areas of Canada responding? Well, by accelerating their efforts to raid what’s left of the poor regions’ best and brightest talent. Calgary, for example, has been running full page ads in markets like Winnipeg extolling the merits of moving to that fair city. Aberta reps were also recently in Moncton promoting jobs out west. And this talent recruitment effort is not limited to ‘skilled tradespeople’. IT workers, health care professionals are also being courted to move from ‘poor’ to ‘rich’ areas in Canada.

Now, I don’t think there should be formal efforts to stop governments from ‘raiding’ talent. I am not sure how you could stop it anyway.

I just think the optics of provincial governments aggressively recruiting away our best and brightest aren’t that good.

Who will be left, me and my cousin Ernie? Maybe you?

I just think this underscores the need for a real economic development strategy in New Brunswick. One where we can be recruiting Calgarians to move here. Don’t laugh. Over 50% of OAO Technology Solutions’ IT professionals were recruited into Moncton from outside New Brunswick back in the late 1990s (before they downsized but that’s another story).

I think a fairly good wedge of Canadians and immigrants would move here (not all but some) if there were good job opportunities.

But if there are not, they will not move here and further those that are left will continue to be courted to move out.