Wicked Ideas
Cruise on in, cruise on out: Today thousands sail into Saint John harbour to visit for the day; it's been over 100 years since that many people walked off a boat and decided to stay for a lifetime.

Potato, Potahto. No matter how you slice it, the New Brunswick government needs your help. Go give it to ’em.

Cruise on in, cruise on out: Today thousands sail into Saint John harbour to visit for the day; it’s been over 100 years since that many people walked off a boat and decided to stay for a lifetime. The last significant immigration to New Brunswick was the 1840s, led by impoverished Irish chased out of Ireland by the potato famine.

For the past two decades the Maritimes has hosted its own diaspora – and for the next couple of weeks the Government of New Brunswick wants to know what you think we could do to slow it down.

To put it in perspective, imagine the entire population of Fredericton moved out and then everyone in Dieppe and Riverview decided to retire.

Over the past two decades, about 50,000 young people – defined as between 10 and 34 years – have left New Brunswick. Meanwhile, over 40,000 people celebrated their 65th birthday and became eligible for seniors’ discounts.

Oi.

As we’ve said before, New Brunswick, along with Nova Scotia and PEI, is in a pickle – and the Government of New Brunswick is looking for ideas from all of you. It’s issued a discussion paper on its current population problems and it’s asking the public to respond to a series of questions by November 1st. We’ve listed the questions below.

The paper is a scary read. Here are the highlights.

No failure to launch here: Young people are launching themselves out of New Brunswick, just as their parents, the baby boomers are getting ready to retire.
No failure to launch here: Young people are launching themselves out of New Brunswick, just as their parents, the baby boomers are getting ready to retire.
New Brunswick you're having a seniors' moment: The number of people over the age of 65 is going to increase by 43%, the largest population shift in the province's history.
New Brunswick you’re having a seniors’ moment: The number of people over the age of 65 is going to increase by 43%, the largest population shift in the province’s history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey kid, time to come home, like RIGHT NOW!!!: Immigration hasn't had a significant influx of immigrants in over 100 years and that's not likely to change any time soon. According to the government's discussion paper, getting ex-pat New Brunswickers to come back is the best option for increasing the population.
Hey kid, time to come home, like RIGHT NOW!!!: Immigration hasn’t had a significant influx of immigrants in over 100 years and that’s not likely to change any time soon. According to the government’s discussion paper, getting ex-pat New Brunswickers to come back is the best option for increasing the population.
What you're gut is telling you - in a pie chart: Between 2007-2012, 65 per cent of people who left the province were between the ages of 15 and 44. Otherwise known  as students and workers.
What you’re gut is telling you – in a pie chart: Between 2007-2012, 65 per cent of people who left the province were between the ages of 15 and 44. Otherwise known as students and workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here’s the thing; I know there are a bunch of you out there with thoughtful observations about why so few people choose to live in New Brunswick. Please, tell us what you think – and then tell the people in government who are trying to solve this problem.

You do that for us, and in return, we’ll do something for you. On Halloween night, once the trick-or-treating is done, I’ll sit down with our leftover candy bowl and I’ll write up a summary of everything you’ve told us and I’ll submit it too. Because, hey, I can’t ask you to do something, if I’m not willing to do it myself. Deal?

You can send your thoughts to the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour:
Email: population.discussion@gnb.ca Fax: 506-444-6729
Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
Population Growth Strategy Consultation
PO 6000, Fredericton NB E3B 5H1

Read the full report here. These are the questions:

  • How do you see immigration contributing to the economic growth of New Brunswick?
  • Do you have any ideas for how Government can increase immigration to the province?
  • Do you have any suggestion for how government and communities can help support immigrant entrepreneurs establishing a business in New Brunswick?
  • Do you have any ideas for how the Government and communities can promote newcomers settling in rural parts of New Brunswick?
  • Do you think there is anything the government or stakeholders can do to enhance New Brunswick as a welcoming community?
  • Do you have any ideas for how communities and the private sector can support the development of more welcoming communities in New Brunswick?
  • What factors do you see influencing the movement of people to and from New Brunswick?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how the government and communities can encourage New Brunswickers to return to the province?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how government and communities can support First Nation’s entrepreneurs in New Brunswick?
  • Do you have ideas for how New Brunswick can improve the retention of our youth population?
  • What should government do to foster youth innovation and entrepreneurism?
  • What can government and communities do to increase Francophone immigration to the province?
  • Do you have any suggestion on how we can enhance settlement services for Francophone newcomers?

 

 

 

Lisa Hrabluk

Writer. Social Thinker. Founder, Wicked Ideas. Find me hanging out where culture, people and ideas collide. wickedideas.ca
@lisahrabluk

6 comments

  • Two thoughts: One – youth outmigration is a good thing. We should be encouraging our young people to experience what the world has to offer. The key is to have interesting job opportunities and a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in NB to lure them back 10-20 years later with the promise of a better quality of life.
    Two – our seniors are an asset and we need to do a better job of caring for and engaging that asset. This means better preventative health care and more options for seniors to engage with the workforce (both market driven enterprises and social enterprises).

  • I have a two part rant on the subject, I suppose.

    My personal experience struggling to find gainful employment has been provided in part by the world economy, generation wars, and partly by the culture of stagnancy that plagues NB. My first full-time employer beat me down so badly with micromanagement and reminders of employment insecurity that I believed I was worth less. When I finally saw otherwise, I learned that employers failed to recognize the value of the creative and critical thinking class(es). New ideas, intellectualism, and a willingness to learn new skills were frowned upon and I was encouraged to fit a box or fit nowhere at all. I know the problem is nor me, but alas, this is ongoing. But hey, I don’t fear hard work and I’m not homeless. Yet.

    Moving on… in terms of immigration, I want to focus on ethnicity for a moment. I don’t often speak about the unbelievable words directed at me as a second generation, light(ish) skinned, English speaking Canadian, because I know how bad anyone darker skinned, accented, or who speaks one or more other languages are treated. I’ve worked with newcomers in various capacities over the years and I’m familiar with their stories. Our religious-cultural intolerance is abhorrent. Non anglo saxons immigrants here face incessant mockery at best and unabashed hatred at worse.

    In short, we make newcomers feel so isolated they cannot survive.

    I feel racism is a colonial disease that we are born and bred with by virtue of living in Canadian culture and it is not something that can be entirely tackled overnight. We are plagued with general ignorance, jingoism, a lack of understanding about racial privilege, and a simple resentment towards our fellow man.

    On the latter point, NB has a terrible habit of wanting one’s neighbour to be as or more miserable than oneself. I’ve remarked we rarely relish the success of others and instead resent some perceived unfair advantage that a successful individual must have had.

    The only reasons I remain are that I have many friends and family here and I was raised to be part of a solution, not part of a problem.

  • I know exactly what you’re talking about Kelly. I used to joke when I was still at the Telegraph Journal that I was the Cher of New Brunswick because no one – and I mean no one – ever said my last name. It was either Lisa or ‘the girl in the paper’. I was asked on more than one occasion when I arrived in Canada and I remember talking on the phone to one woman from Coles Island who when she heard my name, told me I was a good woman for taking my husband’s name. Then I told her that while I was married, I had kept my name, which caused her to say I was fortunate to have a strong mother who obviously fought to make sure I at least had a normal first name. To which I replied that Lisa is a fairly universal name in most European countries, that it, in fact, is not an English-only name. Then, God love her, the poor woman not wanting to appear unworldly, asked me the origins of my last name. I told her it was Ukrainian and then she asked me if I had any relatives caught up in the flood. What flood I asked? The one along the Danube, she replied. Sigh. What’s in a name? For some New Brunswickers, a lot of stereotypes.

  • Along the lines of Karina’s comments, I believe the youth out-migration problem will be more self-correcting than acknowledged, and that the government’s trend-lines fail to model expat desire to be alongside aging parents and siblings. When they boomerang home, time spent in diverse centers like Edmonton and Calgary will wear-off any crusty attitudes on race and culture they may have left home with.

  • The maritime provinces are stuck in an archaic system of thought and inaction. The world and it’s youth are evolving and our city is not. I was born and raised in this old paradigm. It is fear based, closed-minded, judgemental and elicits the fallacy of the struggle to survive. After 30 years here, this paradigm no longer serves me. We have tried everything to stay here for our extended family and loved ones. But it is like beating our heads against a brick wall. Today I meet with our Real Estate Agent to put our house up on the market so that we can head to greener pastures (along with 4 other families) to thrive. This is why we are leaving and why the majority of our friends have left before us. 1) Employment: We are skilled workers (Registered Nurses, Plumbers, Carpenters, Electricians, and Business Professionals) who have not been able to find employment in our field of study or are disappointed with the way the system is being run when we do find work. I have been an RN for 10 years and I am saddened at how I see health care dollars being wasted on pharmaceuticals and overpriced malfunctioning equipment at the expense of frontline workers. I also no longer can work in a close minded environment. I see the real reasons people are ill, I see the preventative and alternative healing modalities that would promote a state of health in their being. However, this holistic approach to health care is catching on too slowly in this part of the country for me to be able to thrive here. I head to greener pastures to study holism and healthcare. My husband on the other hand who is a plumber has been out of school for 4 years and is one of two people in a class of 30 who found employment in his field. However, when his position ended and the company left Saint John (after their contracted work was completed in 2011) he has yet to secure another job in his field. So for now he works for close to minimum wage doing home restoration work for insurance companies. 2) Pollution and lack of Green Alternatives: The maritime provinces naturally have an abundance of opportunities if the right eyes can see them. A common topic of discussion at work and when we are with friends is ‘why are we destroying what we have for old energy?’ We have clean green pastures, beautiful farm land, and a foggy but windy city. Let’s work with that, not against it. Clean organic produce is only growing in it’s popularity. We can contribute in a big way to this market, but instead we promote hydraulic fracturing of our land. We should also take pride in our windy city and harness it’s natural powers. We could be leaders in wind power…something that is sustainable! But we use fear and train derailments to usher in pipelines. We sell our prime land for wind generation to oil companies and sit quietly as excessive pollution is pumped into our air every time the fog rolls in. We are not stupid, we see it, we smell it, we wipe it off our patio furniture in the mornings after a foggy night. 3) New Experiences: When I saw how many people flooded Walmart when they started selling produce last month I was floored. There are so many closed doors here to new experiences that this is what happens. Walmart becomes the beehive. What to do on a weekend…bars, movies, Walmart 🙂 I dream of summer weekends in uptown Saint John filled with farmers markets and music. Street carts (like on the TV show Eat Street) selling unique, exotic and fresh foods. No more routine pizza, pasta, Chinese and burger restaurants. We need to get our community engaged, but you can’t get people out here because there is nothing exciting to do, no new and fun experiences to be had, nothing special to draw us out. In closing, our youth are changing, the world is changing, Saint John (and the maritime provinces) are not changing. Evolution is a spiral, death is a circle. This place has been sustaining it’s old circle/cycle for too long. Evolution can not be stopped, new modes of thinking can not be supressed, so societies leaders can embrace this fact and flow with change or watch their systems and paradigms crumble as they get left behind. Which is what is occurring right here, right now. Our governments solution so far has been to immigrate people from other countries to the area. Great for diversity! But we are leaving faster than you can replace us. Why? Because of the polluted repetitive lifestyle and lack of experience and opportunity. It doesn’t matter how many people you bring here if you can’t make them stay. Doesn’t the saying go ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink’.

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