As I get older I realize there actually isn’t much that old people have on the young. These days skills can be acquired at lightening speed, many young people have figured out the importance of networks in a way that most in my generation did not. There is one thing that age brings that is hard for the young – perspective. You can read about events all day long but that is not the same as living them. Characterizations of the ‘Moncton Miracle’ by the young today do not have the same texture as those served up by David Jonah or others that were actively involved at the front end in the 1980s.
Recently while cleaning out old files I came across a hard copy of this McKenna era report (New Brunswick at the Dawn of a New Century) on demography and how it would impact the province in the years ahead.
There are a few fun facts in this report. It states, for example, that the per capita costs for publicly funded health care in New Brunswick for those 85+ was a shocking $477 in 1995 – more than double (!) the overall per capita costs. According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator $477 in 1995 would be the same as $713 in 2017. Guess how much the per capita costs for 85+ health care are today? Depending on your data source – around $12,000 per 85+ person. Don’t even think about projecting this growth rate out over the next 20 years or you will be immersed in a Richard Saillantian world of cliffs and cleavages.
But what is most striking is what is not said in this report. They set up a select committee of the Legislature – delve into the big issues – the global desire to moderate or reduce population, the fact that Canada will need 500,000 immigrants per year by 2030 – a target by the way we are well on the way to hitting nationally – all of the major drivers of New Brunswick’s demographics – and then virtually no recommendations – only vague statements about need to come up with innovative solutions, etc.
In the 1995 Throne Speech, McKenna stated “dramatic demographic changes are ahead, creating risks for the unprepared and opportunity for the far-sighted” and “New Brunswick will be ready for the twenty-first century.”
I can’t help thinking as my mother used to say “there is many a slip between the cup and the lip”.