15 Meetings Planned Across NB to Discuss Future of Population and Workforce
Communities across New Brunswick are seeing accelerated declines in population, a rise in the median age, and a drop in the number of people working. Demographic challenges are putting urgent pressure on employers and industries, while putting fiscal pressures on municipalities and the provincial government. Immigration is becoming a key solution for the province to spark growth and meet workforce needs, however the broader community must play a supportive role.
The New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC), in partnership with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Province of New Brunswick, is launching the “New Conversations” tour, which will take place in 15 communities throughout the province. The tour aims to raise awareness about the demographic and labour market realities in each region, engage community leaders in a dialogue about the future of their population and workforce, and spark new ideas and solutions in order to welcome more people to our communities. To date, over 80 organizations have committed partnership and participation in the meetings.
Joining NBMC on the tour will be Richard Saillant, author and economist, as well as David Campbell, former Chief Economist of NB, to present key findings from a recent analysis of local demographic and labour market trends. A unique profile of the labour market and demographic realities has been created by Campbell for each region, which will be shared at the events. Participants at each event will also hear from local employers and newcomers about the challenges they face in the region, and their vision for the sustainability and vitality of their communities.
“Much has been said about the role immigration can play in building tomorrow’s New Brunswick. Immigration may not be a panacea, but it is not an economic pipe dream either. It is in fact our single best opportunity for building a more prosperous, dynamic and resilient province,” said Richard Saillant, Economist and Author. “New Brunswick is at a crossroad. This may sound like a tired cliché but it is nevertheless true. What we do or fail to do over the next five years could have a decisive impact for decades to come. Welcoming many, many more immigrants should be on the very top of our to-do list.”
“Just 20 years ago there were 29,000 New Brunswickers in the provincial workforce who were over the age of 55. Now there are 92,000 and most of them will retire within 10-15 years,” said David Campbell, former Chief Economist for the Government of New Brunswick. “New Brunswick’s labour force is in decline and this is holding back our economic potential as a province. An increasing number of industries are struggling to find workers.”
“At the end of the day, welcoming new people is a community effort,” said the President of NBMC, Mike Timani. “There are still many leaders in government, businesses, and community agencies that don’t realize how serious our population problems are. This tour is meant to give them the facts and engage them in solutions.”
“Immigration is key to building strong Atlantic communities and improving the region’s ability to compete in a global market,” said Matt DeCourcey, Member of Parliament for Fredericton, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA. “The Government of Canada is proud to support organizations like the New Brunswick Multicultural Council that promote immigration as a key factor in meeting skills shortages, helping to create good quality jobs for all our citizens, while growing and strengthening our local economy.”
“The provincial government applauds the New Brunswick Multicultural Council and all participating partners of the New Conversations tour, for coming together to start these important conversations on how immigration can benefit New Brunswick communities and employers. In addition to having high levels of education and expertise in their field of choice, many immigrants bring valuable knowledge of international markets to help companies do business around the world,” said Labour, Employment and Population Growth Minister Gilles LePage. “By working together, we can show newcomers why New Brunswick is the best place to work, live and raise a family.”