An Action Plan for New Brunswick’s Demographic Deficit




Your second assignment is to read my article here below and write a four page essay, double spaced, on “An Action Plan for Eliminating New Brunswick’s demographic deficit.”

Your essay should include a complete bibliography of all the books, articles and web sites used in the completion of your assignment as well as footnoted references for quotations and other forms of academic attribution. 

I was recently asked to choose one, and only one, economic issue that was central to New Brunswick’s future prosperity.

At first glance, this appeared to be an easy assignment.

In fact, it turned out to be a daunting task. The reason being that there is not one but numerous economic challenges that confront our province in the immediate and near future.

Thoughtful consideration, however, did reveal that at the end of the day, there was one central economic issue that had a major impact, as well as collateral repercussions on a multitude of challenges facing New Brunswick at the start of the 21st century.

Indeed, the economic issue I selected is so central to New Brunswick’s heartbeat that its ramifications are not confined to the economic landscape, but are also complementary, interrelated and intertwined with numerous social, cultural and political issues.

My answer to this challenging assignment is the demographic deficit.

The demographic deficit is about people.

Too few are being born.

Too many will be retiring.

Most are living longer.

In my opinion there is no other single issue that has direct ramifications on so many of New Brunswick’s challenges than the decline in this province’s population size and the consequences of the distortions in the age composition of our demographics.

The demographic deficit embraces several primary and secondary issues.

There is no single economic, social or political issue that is not directly or indirectly related in some form or manner to our provincial demographic profile.

The effective management and strategic deployment of our human assets has become a central feature for success in the new global economy.

The glue that holds the new economy together is human capital.

That is to say, the individual and collective knowledge, skills and expertise of the population.

Confronting the demographic challenge requires the recognition that economic policy and social policy should not be developed on separate and independent tracks.

Rather, they should be formulated and implemented as a complementary and interconnected public policy approach.

Why is New Brunswick’s population profile the centrepiece of our future economic vitality and prosperity?

Simply, because it is connected to all of the important hot buttons of the provincial economy.

At the present time our demographic profile illustrates several characteristics that spell economic disaster.

* The decline in birth rates and the shrinking of the population base.

* The substantial increase in the number of seniors in our population.

* The looming retirement of the largest portion of New Brunswick’s population-the Baby Boomer’s (those born between 1946-1966).

* The out migration of our young people to more lucrative employment opportunities and careers in Western Canada.

* The debilitating labour shortages in numerous trades, skills and professional occupations.

* Our inability to attract a significant number of new immigrants and, even worse, our poor record at retaining an acceptable number of them after they come to New Brunswick.

All of this does not paint a pretty picture.

Indeed, unless these trends are reversed in the very near future, we are headed for a demographic downward spiral and a major economic implosion.

The economic consequences of downsizing New Brunswick’s population size and the related distortions in the age structure are much too scary even to contemplate.

It is said that nothing focuses the mind like being on the way to the gallows.

The negative repercussions of our demographic predicament forecast an economy that, at best, simply sputters along, a decline in tax revenue, reductions in equalization payments from Ottawa, a level of health care that is considerably worse than what it is today, lack of investment incentives, a shrinking pool of savings, inadequate funding for social programs and the under utilization of our economic and social infrastructure.

There is no denying that size matters when it comes to economic success.

This is particularly the case when we are talking about the size of the population and the related human capital endowment that is an essential prerequisite for economic success in the new global economy.

Indeed, it is not coincidental that the two new emerging economic superpowers of the 21st century, China and India are the worlds most populated countries on earth.

China with a population approaching 1.5 billion people and India with a population of one billion inhabitants.

Constantine Passaris is Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of New Brunswick

© 2007 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)

Length: 720 words











Branching Paths:  An Action Plan for New Brunswick’s Demographic Deficit

Conventionally, demography refers to the study of population profiles, pyramids, and projections. The population in New Brunswick has experienced remarkable fluctuations in demographic characteristics.  The demographic shortfall in the Province has advanced for some time as the population changes do not happen abruptly. The decline in the population results from few people being born, too many retiring, and the majority living longer. Furthermore, the young individuals in the Province tend to look for more lucrative job opportunities in Western Canada. New Brunswick is also experiencing labor shortages and the inability to attract immigrants. The action plan to enhance the existing population shortfall in the Province is complex and consists of several practical strategies that the New Brunswick government can implement.  Specifically, the government currently facilitates immigration into New Brunswick to ensure population growth. The action plan suggests a solution to the population shortfall in the Province using immigration and settlement, repatriation and attraction, francophone immigration, encouraging diversity, and establishing welcoming communities.

Immigration and Settlement

Attracting more immigrants to New Brunswick is just the start of the demographic journey. There is a decline in the working population as approximately half of the inhabitants are aged 45 years and above (Statistics Canada, 2013). Provincial and federal governments manage immigration matters in Canada, an essential task for demographic forecasting reasons. Generally, New Brunswick has been inactive in allowing new immigrants. Thus, the Province has discovered that it can establish the ideal immigration policy. The Canadian government has acknowledged fluctuating immigration landscape typified by powerful competition for skilled human resources and convenient immigration procedures, impacting its imminent demographic features (Statistics Canada, 2013).  Thus, the administration needs to advertise the country as a destination for experienced immigrants.  Additionally, Canada should change its immigration guidelines and practices to promote immigration into New Brunswick (Steel, 2006). The adjustments are expected to enhance the immigration practices in Canada, and the New Brunswick province will modify its efforts to gain from the enhanced policy environment.

Bilingual Immigration

Constitutionally, New Brunswick is distinct as it is bilingual. The Province has a chance to establish a specific proposal for Francophone immigrants (Passaris, 2012).  New Brunswick should work with other interested parties to ensure effective Francophone immigration and develop Francophone villages in its jurisdiction. The Province has discovered that the Francophone settlement market is typified by rivalry from other provinces, for instance, Quebec (Passaris, 2012). Even though the Canadian government is working towards enhancing Francophone-speaking immigrants’ uptake, every Province should compete for effective bilingual immigration. A more significant percentage of Francophone immigration is customarily aged 30 years and below (Passaris, 2012). Thus, New Brunswick has realized it is a thriving market for recruiting immigrants to address the issue of the demographic deficit.


New Brunswick is currently experiencing massive brain drains. The trend is often observed among young individuals aged from 15 to35years (Chamie, 2012). The young people in this age bracket are constantly looking for employment opportunities and ultimately settle outside the Province. According to Passaris, “We are in the presence of a fact which I will now attempt to state quite brutally. We are in the presence of a recruiting drive systematically and deliberately undertaken by American business, by American universities, and, to a lesser extent, American Government agencies, often initiated by talent scouts specially sent over here to buy British brains and to pre-empt them for the service of the United States.”  Thus, New Brunswick needs to address the issue of outmigration. It would be challenging to endure these losses and provide support to the aging population. With time, this can be a public policy disaster. The Province should provide alternate and feasible career development opportunities to youth to prevent them from going into other countries or provinces. The strategy will necessitate programs that promote investments in young adults (Murrell & Fantauzzo, 2014). Young individuals are expected to support economic development. Therefore, the business people and the administration should work together to ensure that these programs are effective. Such teamwork efforts should substantiate that the Province is the ideal place to find a job, develop and become successful by creating self-assurance in the inhabitants and economy.

Defining the new employee programs with employers is essential. New Brunswick must ensure that the programs are well defined by, for instance, enabling wage subsidizations for businesses that create employment opportunities and hire the youths.  The Province can conveniently compensate a particular proportion of labor expenses to employers. Additionally, the labor and job market connections can produce affirmative responses once the government resolves to collaborate with the private segment. Chamie asserts that “New Brunswick should support emerging entrepreneurs and investments to grow both traditional and new sectors of the economy.” The government should get practical explanations to influence individual resolutions and ensure that most young people consider the Province to be the ideal place to reside.  New Brunswick should also establish programs to welcome immigrants in its communities. The Province should uphold diversity and enjoy an all-inclusive culture to appeal to foreigners.


New Brunswick loses the majority of its inhabitants to other provinces compared to those it appeals The Province has a restricted capacity to appeal to outsiders and regulate the loss of its citizens to other provinces (Passaris, 2012). Consequently, the Province needs to establish new strategies which will help attract new inhabitants. Immigrants are essential assets for the Province. New Brunswick should focus on highly skilled and educated settlers who may not encounter language barriers to get involved in the labor market instantly. In addition, the Province should ensure that it creates contacts with its skilled workforce in other provinces and the wider region of North America. The strategy will ensure that the newcomers provide the necessary labor resources to compete efficiently with other provinces.

Continuous education plays a vital role in ensuring that the young people get the necessary skills to advance the Province’s economy. New Brunswick should take part in constant training to ensure that the young individuals acquire the necessary skills for work and gain crucial insights into the Province’s issues.  To facilitate the efficient attraction of the outsiders and retain its inhabitants, New Brunswick should improve its aptitude to link the employers and the immigrants. Additionally, the Province should establish practical performance gauges to record data and report its initiative to attract immigrants and maintain its young people. The indicators should direct the decision-making process and strategies to engage the expatriates.

As discussed, New Brunswick currently faces a demographic deficit that could adversely affect its prosperity.  Consequently, the Province should restore its population growth and counterbalance the destructive demographic shifts. The action plan emphasizes appealing the youth to the Province due to their capability to develop, settle and manage the economy. Additionally, the action plan centers on economic development and labor force expertise development approach, welcoming communities and encouraging diversity, promoting Francophone immigrants, outmigration, and appealing and retaining youth. Consistent emphasis on such aspects of the action plan can ensure that Brunswick effectively addresses its demographic shortfall and associated problems. Nevertheless, the action plan necessitates relentless teamwork with every stakeholder, evaluations, and bringing up to date to guarantee success.



Chamie, J. (2012). For Better Planning, Watch Global Demographic Trends. YaleGlobal. Web.

Murrell, D., & Fantauzzo, S. (2014). New Brunswick’s Debt and Deficit: A Historical Look. Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.

Passaris, C. E. (2012). New Brunswick’s perfect demographic storm. Journal of New Brunswick Studies/Revue d’études sur le Nouveau-Brunswick, 3.

Statistics Canada. (2013). New Brunswick Population Growth Strategy 2013 – 2018. New Brunswick: Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

Steel, H. (2006). Where’s the Policy? Immigration to New Brunswick, 1945-1971. Acadiensis, 85-105.




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