The sandwich generation – with extra pickle

Written by Lisa Hrabluk

Best-selling author. Award-winning journalist. Purpose-led entrepreneur. Find me hanging out where culture, people and ideas collide.

September 19, 2013

Ever wonder why politicians in New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia spend so much time and energy chasing after job announcements? Here’s why. In less than three years children and seniors are going to be equal to the size of the traditional labour force. That’s a big problem because it’s going to have a massive impact on the three social programs we value the most: education, health care and welfare programs.

Here’s how:

1. Personal and corporate income taxes adds up to just over one-third of each province’s own-source revenue. Combine it with consumption taxes (i.e. the provincial portion of HST) and the taxes we pay out of pocket are about two-thirds of government own-source revenue in PEI and New Brunswick, and about three-quarters in Nova Scotia. Own-source revenues does not include equalization and transfer payments.

2. That means income taxes (both personal and corporate) and consumption taxes are essential for governments to maintain government services.

3. The heaviest users of government services are children and seniors, which is completely logical because the kids are in school and as we get older we require more health care services.

4. Up until now, we’ve had a workforce that has been able to support this dynamic, even as the Maritimes population stagnated, because the baby boomers were in the workforce.

5. However the baby boomers are beginning to retire, the generation directly behind them – Generation X (yeah, that’s me and the Wicked Ideas crew) –is much smaller and the baby boomers’ kids, known as Generation Y, the Millennials or the Echo generation are not convinced the Maritimes is the place for them, largely because they can’t find jobs in the fields they want to work in.

We all can’t – or want – to build a pipeline, construct ships or work offshore.

Chew on that – and then let us know what you think.


To see where we got our stats, check out the division of government revenues from Statistics Canada and Stats Can’s population projections here. We used the low growth projection because that has been the historical trend here for the past few decades.

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