After my recent blog about the fast growth of Phoenix, some of you are probably saying: “Growth, who needs it. We are perfectly happy with things the way they are.”
Don’t get me wrong. Growth is not the issue. There are some examples of countries and regions that have remained at a similar size for many years and are still strong and viable economies. The problem is that with New Brunswick, we are not strong and certainly not viable as an economy. We need, as I have stated many times before, significant economic growth just to bring our taxation levels to the point where we can pay for the level of government services that we now enjoy. Currently, we require hundreds of millions of tax dollars from other parts of Canada just to pay for a basic level of government service (otherwise known as Equalization, Employment Insurance, etc.). New Brunswick needs a sustained period of very strong economic growth just to get to the level of Saskatchewan or some other ‘have’ province.
By my calculations, and they are very weak, I estimate that we will almost have to double the size of our workforce with limited increase in government service costs just to get to a point where we are breaking even (i.e. crossing the line to a ‘have’ province).
Why is this important? While we are so dependant on other areas of Canada to pay for our government services, we have virtually no ‘economic sovereignty’ meaning that utlimately much of the decision making about what government funding will be in the province is driven by people outside New Brunswick.
How are we going to generate this sustained period of very strong economic growth? In my humble opinion, we will have to attract significantly higher business investment from outside the province – just like what is happening in Phoenix and many other regions in the United States.