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Hrabluk the statistician

March 14th, 2005

You would think that Lisa Hrabluk is on the provincial payroll. Her columns continually put forward positive images of the provincial government and its programs in economic development, education and other key areas. This despite the fact that we are at or are close to the bottom on almost every economic, social and education related benchmark.

But my criticism today is with her misuse of statistics. In her latest column she talks about the looming problem of a declining population in New Brunswick. She states that a UNB economist has forecasted that the province’s population will deccrease to 725,000 people by 2026.

Now, I am not an economist. I don’t even consider myself overly bright but according to Statistics Canada, the population of New Brunswick in 2001 (four years ago) was 729,498 (if you don’t believe me go to the Stats Canada website at www.statcan.ca) . Since 2001, by my humble calculations, the population has decreased by a small amount. Now, Ms. Hrabluk comes along warning that our population will decrease to 725,000 over the next 20 years.

From 1996 to 2001, the population declined by some 9,000 people in New Brunswick and Ms. Hrabluk and her cronies at UNB now suggest it will take another 25 years to drop by 4,000.

Check your data and sources, Ms. Hrabluk. The population of New Brunswick will be much lower than 725,000 by 2026. Without a real plan to address the population, it will be 725,000 by, interestingly, 2006 or 2007.

By 2026, we are looking at a population of well under 700,000. We will be even more dependent on Equalization (Premier Lord better hope the paternalistic Liberals stay in power for another generation) and our rural communities will be left with almost no population at all (except for Seniors drawing their income from government sources).

Ms. Hrabluk and her cronies are right to raise the issue of population. It is critical. But using flawed population forecasts doesn’t help anyone. And writing glowing reports about the Premier and his government’s policies will only exacerbate the lack of action.

And lack of action is slowly killing New Brunswick.

Better dust off the resume, Ms. Hrabluk.

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