Friday, June 23, 2006


No Funswick

The Government of New Brunswick led by Bernie Lord have embarked on an ambitious set of goals or gimmicks - you chose. The 5 in 5 plan calls for the following:

Goal 1
The smart province -- the highest increase in workers with post-secondary education in Canada.

Goal 2 The investment province -- the lowest tax burden east of Alberta, and biggest decrease in the unemployment rate in Canada.

Goal 3 The wellness province -- the biggest increase in physical fitness participation of any province in Canada.

Goal 4
The clean province -- the greatest reduction in air and water pollution in Canada.

Goal 5 The inclusive province -- the biggest reduction of poverty rate in Canada.

On goal 1, the province has invested plenty of resources, dating back to Frank McKenna, to ensuring post- secondary graduates have employment. Call Centres are labelled as jobs, not careers. Recently, the Lord government pumped allot of money into "tax credits" for post-secondary graduates who either stay or come to New Brunswick. Not a bad plan, as far as social engineering goes, however, far from a complete strategy.

New Brunswick faces some daunting challenges with respect to education - secondary and post-secondary. The literacy rates amongst youth are embarrassing. New Brunswick is dead last in Canada for secondary school performance in math, science and reading comprehension. This posses some challenges for individuals wanting to continue their education. It is like trying to fly without wings - not often successful.

As noted in this publication - on pages 100-102 (large .pdf alert) - the province's universities also have the second lowest academic entrance cut-off in Canada. New Brunswick does however have the 2nd highest university (3rd for total post-secondary) participation rate in the country. This despite high university tuition rates, low median family income and rather inadequate student financial assistance programs (large .pdf alert the sequel).

On goal 2, a good start. It seems that many jurisdictions outside Ontario see the benefit of low commercial tax rates. New Brunswick is smart to attempt to have the lowest rates. It is a gamble and we will see if it pays off. The province is void of many of the resources available in neighbouring provinces - oil in Nova Scotia and tourism and spuds in PEI.

On goal 3, getting the province to eat fewer Joe Louis', fried clams and consume less Pepsi will be tough.

On goal 4, does that mean fewer Tim Horton's or Irving’s?

On goal 5, this will require a concrete effort through multiple measures. Job creation. Stronger education.

These are all easy to say and the proof will be in the numbers. Good luck Lord.

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