N.B.’s population woes are expected to worsen

The Daily Gleaner ran a story yesterday on the population decline in New Brunswick. Campbell Morrison takes a balanced look at the issue.

Statistics Canada predicts the decline could mean the province would be home to as few as 708,000 people by 2026.

The issue confounded governments as long ago as 1997, when former premier Frank McKenna asked Joan Kingston to head a select committee on demographics. Kingston, now the principle secretary in Premier Shawn Graham’s office, said the issue is key to New Brunswick’s future prosperity.

“It is a very important issue when you consider that, in order to increase productivity and in order to have good economic engines firing on all cylinders, you need a workforce to do that,” she said in an interview.

“It is very important (for) economic development.”

I hope Ms. Kingston et. al. understand the chickenness and eggness of this issue. You need industry to attract people. You don’t attract people and then go get industry. The trick is to convince industry that people will move here for good jobs.

So, I would survey expats to confirm this theory. I would publish all the inmigration data for a place like Moncton that has shown an ability to attract several thousand people from outside New Brunswick in the past decade.

If we spend too much time on the people side of the equation and not enough on the economic side you will end up with – surprise, surprise – Bernard Lord’s model. Go to Toronto with Labatt beer, invite expats to a room and tell them about all the opportunities in New Brunswick. Then send them to a website that shows only call centre jobs.

It didn’t work for Bernie and it won’t work for Shawn.