Every year, Statistics Canada comes out with their new population estimates and every year we get experts weighing on how to counter the ‘aging’ population in New Brunswick. This is almost an annual tradition in New Brunswick.
Former Premier Lord blamed ‘demographics’ for the problem. I’ve been trying to track that guy down for years and can’t seem to find him. No, it is convenient for politicians to blame ‘demographics’ but that is no different than blaming ‘economics’ for the current financial meltdown or ‘fat’ for health problems. The aging of the population is due to lower fertility rates and the out-migration of young people. That’s it. If you are way too fat, you will have health problems. You can blame the fat or you can blame what caused the fat.
If you want to reverse the trend, you implement policies that either incentivize procreation or that lead to the creation of good paying jobs that will keep young people here and even bring some back here that have left.
Incentivizing procreation is no good because without the jobs here you are just extending the cycle. When are people the greatest burden on society (from a fiscal perspective)? When they are between the ages of 1-18 and between the ages of 65 and the end of it. During youth, governments pay for education, subsidized child care and other expenses but get zero back (unless you believe in child labour). When young people are just old enough to start generating taxes – poof – thousands of them are off to Ontario, Alberta and beyond to start paying taxes in those provinces. When they retire an increasing number of them come back to New Brunswick – to use the health care system. Older folks do pay taxes – for sure – but definitionally – less than when they were in their working years.
So, we can’t become a retirement province or continue to be the labour market incubator for Ontario. We need to have a strong economy that is bringing in young people and presto – no more ‘demographic’ problem.