Advice for Alec Bruce

In his T&T column Is leaving home the only option? written yesterday, Alec Bruce continues another in a long line of articles, commentaries, case studies and blogs about the structural economic troubles facing New Brunswick.

I won’t comment on everything he said except to say that I agree with his diagnosis but not with his cure (or lack thereof).

New Brunswick will never be Ontario. Moncton will never be Toronto. At least not in our lifetime. So people that want to be writers, physicists, rocket scientists, etc. may have to leave New Brunswick to pursue their careers.

I think I rank labour mobility as one of the most, if not the most, important element of a healthy economy. I think the many efforts by government to restrict labour mobility (through sub-par income subsidy programs such as EI) are a drag on an economy. So if you feel the itch to go and settle elsewhere – go and God be with you.

But we also need to make New Brunswick a place where people can move to. Thousands of people moved to Moncton in the past 15 years and not all of them were from Tracadie. Try Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver. Middle and senior managers in call centres and regional offices. Other professionals in IT, etc. And, by the way 2/3 were Anglophones.

Policy makers should start getting the message and investing seriously in economic developmetn (we spend in NB the lowest in Canada on economic development).

Commentators and bloggers should stop sending mixed messages to government about priorities. Until our economy is strong and we are net contributors to the Canadian economy, we should always answer ‘economic issues’ to any freakin’ surveyor that calls us during supper – as that is the primary way that governments determine policy and programs.

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