One of my economics professors in University was particularly lavish in his use of Latin phrases. I mean they all use some standard phrases – ceteris paribus, a priori, etc. but this guy seemed to be speaking another language. Almost every sentence he would use one of these obscure phrases leaving myself and most of the class scrambling to figure out what he was talking about. Where was Google when I needed it most?
One Latin phrase came to mind when reading about Premier Higg’s desire to not have to duplicate public services and infrastructure in every single community around the province. He’s not wrong, in theory, but there are some practical realities.
There are dozens of communities across New Brunswick where health care is the largest employer. The map below shows the 63 municipalities with a health care facility employing at least 50 people (from Statistics Canada’s June 2020 business counts). In 13 of those communities there is no other employer larger than that one health care organization.
So rationalization of health care facilities is not just about access to the service – it’s about the fact that health care is the most important or one of the most important industries around the province.
Communities across New Brunswick with one or more health care facilities with at least 50 employees*
*includes nursing homes and related facilities.
So the quid pro quo idea is simple. If we are rationalizing public services or not building public infrastructure in every community, what will support economic growth in those communities?
Back in the Robichaud, Hatfield and McKenna days, politicians would roll into town with a big new mining project or a new smelter or a new sawmill or pulp mill or frozen food manufacturing facility or a new port or some other large private sector/publicly supported economic development project.
There is not as much of that anymore leaving communities holding on for dear life to their schools, hospitals and other public services (e.g. Service NB office).
I’d like to see broader plans for municipalities and regions around New Brunswick. Right now there is a lot of uncertainty because of demographics, aging entrepreneurs, etc. The conversation of public services and infrastructure rationalization should be held in the context of a broader plan for the province.