I just fed Feijoada to a group of Moncton’s Brazilian community (25 in total) at my house over the weekend. It was a bit odd for a Canadian to cook a relatively complex Brazilian dish but they were kind in their comments.
I set the table with this (no pun intended) to begin my comments on the story today about multiculturalism – or about the lack of multiculturalism in Moncton and Saint John.
The most basic fact of New Brunswick’s economy over the past 50 years is it hasn’t generated enough economic activity and employment to support the people that are here let alone population growth from immigration.
That doesn’t mean that healthy economies don’t have out-migration. Tens of thousands of people move out of the GTA each year. But the underlying reality is that the number of net new jobs being created in Toronto, or Kelowna, or Calgary each year far out-paces the local supply of labour so they need new immigrants and migrants from the rest of Canada to meet their workforce needs.
New Brunswick, overall, has not had that challenge.
Therefore, efforts to aggressively attract immigrants (unless they are immigrant investors) that need jobs are bound to either lead to high out migration among the new immigrants or among the general population.
As the death rate now starts to out-pace the birth rate in New Brunswick, we will need immigrants or migrants just to sustain the current level of economic activiity.
But remember the last decade saw an increase of thousands of new public sector workers in New Brunswick. It is very unlikely the public sector (health, education, public admin, etc.) will be growing in the next 10 years at any level like the last 10. We also added roughly 10,000 new call centre/customer contact centre jobs (net new jobs) in the past decade and that is unlikely to continue in the next 10.
My point is that I can’t see the sectors that are going to drive employment growth (and hence the need for significant new immigration) over the next 10 years. Retail is a lagging sector (i.e. 1,000 call centre jobs generate the need for 50 retail jobs and not vice versa) as is most of the professional and personal services sector. Construction is also not a primary economic engine.
Will tourism create thousands of new jobs? Will manufacturing? How about IT? Life sciences is talked about a lot but there isn’t much happening yet.
My point, of course, is to not put the cart before the horse. We tend to think like that in New Brunswick.