Social capital in New Brunswick: Some good and some not so good news

Statistics Canada recently published its “Trends in Social Capital” report for Canada and the 10 provinces. It is based on a wide ranging survey of concepts meant to test social capital including number of friends, contact with neighbours, participation in community groups, etc.

Positive highlights:

The ethnic diversity of social contacts: The percentage of NBers  who in the past month were in contact with at least a few friends from a visibly different ethnic group from their own rose from 37 percent in 2003 to 42 percent in 2013.  I have a hunch that if every NB-born person that is nervous about immigration sat down and broke bread with an immigrant most would drop their concerns.

We still fare quite well on the “lost wallet” test. 55 percent of NBers say  it is very likely to have a lost wallet or purse returned if found by a neighbour.  that is down slightly from 2003 and ranks behind NL and PEI only.


Red flags: 

In 2013, Quebec (36%) and New Brunswick (46%) were the two provinces with the lowest rates of monthly participation in group activities. Among other provinces, the participation rate varied between 51% and 55%. Civic participation is a very important concept.  That less than half of us do not participate in group activities is a concern.

Quebec (36%), and to a lesser degree New Brunswick (51%), recorded the lowest levels of generalized trust.

Social contact with friends:  The percentage of NBers who saw their friends a few times or more a week dropped from 67 percent in 2003 to 51 percent in 2013.  People who contacted their friends a few times or more a week dropped from 64% to 53%.  This was not unique to NB – this trend was pretty consistent across Canada.

Social contact with relatives: The percentage of NBers who saw relatives a few times or more a week also dropped significantly from 55 percent in 2003 to 38 percent in 2013.

Linguistic diversity is not where it should be:  The percentage of NBers who in the past month were only in contact with people with the same mother tongue as their own was 59 percent.  In a province where 44 percent of the population speak a language other than English (Francophones, bilingual anglophones and other languages) you would think that percentage might be lower.