Ok. In a nutshell here is the core reason why New Brunswick’s will never boom without a fundamental shift in think on economic development.
Consider what New Brunswick’s Premier has lobbied Ottawa for in recent years:
1. Money for Lepreau
2. Money for more Equalization
3. Money for stay at home moms (see my comment below before you prejudge me on this one)
4. Money for more Employment Insurance (I am not sure he lobbied for this but he got it)
Consider what he has let slip off the table: the regional economic development agreement (REDA) which matched Federal and Provincial dollars for economic development purposes.
Now, consider Ontario. After successfully negotiating a deal with Ottawa for hundreds of millions to attract automotive manufacturing investments, now they want a similar deal for aerospace. A new strategy out this week calls for the doubling of industry revenues in 10 years but it also suggests that the industry’s hopes of landing new aircraft manufacturing programs in Ontario are conditional on government support.
“It’s not about government providing the substantive portions of the investments, it’s about them inducing companies to invest here,” said Rod Jones, executive director of the Ontario Aerospace Council. Jones said aerospace needs a long-term plan similar to what Ottawa and the province generated for the automotive industry. Both levels of government kicked in cash to help cover research and training funds to help lure several billion-dollar investments, including a new Toyota plant.
About inducing companies to invest here.
Those are words you may never here from the lips of the New Brunswick Premier. You’ll hear lots of talk about education, health care, Lepreau, Equalization, etc. but economic development, good luck. Lot’s of talk about small business, entrepreneurs, now immigration – but attracting the jobs – not interested.
That’s why Ontario will continue to grow and New Brunswick will continue to fall.
NOTE on the stay at home mom thing. Listen, I am not against SAHMs. My wife has been one since we had our third kid and were freakin’ busy all the time. But the federal child care strategy was designed to help working mother’s get a break on daycare costs. New Brunswick has the second lowest Employment Rate (working age people actually working) in Canada and probably North America. Do we need to incentivize further parents to stay home and be subsidized to do so? Lord’s position on this deal fulfilled two purposes: 1) to make Prime Minister Martin look bad during an election (please note that NS and NL both signed child care deals that very week); and 2) to pander to the rural areas which have much higher rates of stay at home parents. Well, he succeeded on both fronts. The Prime Minister looked ridiculous announcing a deal with NB only to have the Premier’s Office say “they can come down if they like but we aren’t signing any deal today” and the media coverage overwhelmingly supported Lord. The media said good for him for standing up for stay at home parents in New Brunswick – way to go.
Now we have no child care money at all. No Lepreau money (don’t be naive). And even more acrimony between the Feds and NB than ever before.