On population growth, fiscal stability and quality of life

I had an excellent conversation with a gentleman yesterday who was pretty vigorous in his view that I shouldn’t be talking about Saskatchewan – contrasting the economic situation out there to New Brunswick.  We need to get used to very low growth in this province, he said.  Why are we obsessed with growth?

I am hearing this more and more lately so I will just make a simple point on this.  Whether you agree with me or not, I have studied this as much as anyone in New Brunswick over the past 15-20 years and in my considered opinion, New Brunswick needs at least a moderate level of GDP growth and population growth (younger imports) in order to have a stable fiscal situation over the next 20 years.  We may not need to grow like Saskatchewan or Alberta but the current path we are on – I don’t see how it is sustainable without a radically reduced set of expectations around health care, education, etc.

I know we live in Canada and I know all about the principle of equalization.  I also know reality.  We are looking at 20 years of pretty tough slogging if we can’t find a way to get the economy moving again.