The Economist magazine has an interesting segment this week called “The World, if….” which provides a series of stories similar to its The World This Week but only at some point in the near future after Hillary Clinton is President. It is a fun but serious look at one possible future.
It got me thinking about New Brunswick. Specifically, New Brunswick, if we are able to address some of our foundational challenges in the next few years. What would New Brunswick look like….
-If we get serious about immigration and demographic renewal.
-If we create an environment where high growth potential entrepreneurs want to build their businesses.
-If we address systemic challenges with the workforce.
-If we shed our fear of multinational firms and embrace the fact we are part of a global economy.
-If we are able to strategically develop our natural resources with a limited environmental impact and a high economic return.
-If we evolve our partnership with the federal government to one with a bold vision of growth for New Brunswick – not one of “ensuring comparable public services” through transfers.
If we got these fundamentals right, New Brunswick would be a different place than it is today. It would be a place of growing multiculturalism, where dynamic and ambitious entrepreneurs from Minto to Mumbai would want to come and build export-based businesses. Where key export-oriented industries had certainty that the future workforce would be in place giving them clarity for their business and investment plans. Where the resources sector would be creating high paying jobs and high value tax revenue for governments. Where are urban centres would be growing and thriving. Where communities around the province would be growing and grappling with the problems of growth – not the problems of decline.
Where the provincial government could be looking to cut tax rates as a dividend arising from growth not increasing them as a response to stagnation and decline.
Yes, housing costs would be rising. Yes, wages would be rising. Yes, some industries might be more challenged than others. But, in the end, New Brunswick’s challenges would be related to managing economic growth not – as is the current reality – managing economic stagnation and population decline.
What kind of New Brunswick do we want?
It’s worth more of us giving this some thought.