Last week, David Campbell made a presentation at the GCC about work force realities in Canada and New Brunswick entitled “New Conversations”. It was eye opening. The median age of Canadians has increased since 1971 from 24 to 45 today. Basically that means we as a country are getting older not just as individuals but as a mix of age groups. That has several important ramifications. First it means that there are fewer young, wage earning taxpayers to support the infrastructure such as roads, health care and education than there used to be. It also means there are more retired folks who are drawing on their well deserved Canada Pension and Old Age Security. Recent news articles show that someone has invested our pension money very wisely and the fund is in good shape (thank you to them!) but eventually, as we draw more out and contribute less as a work force, it will go the other way.
The other important thing that we are seeing is a shrinking work force in New Brunswick and in Canada as a whole. In the last 5 years, New Brunswick’s work force (those working or looking for work) has shrunk by about 12,000 people in spite of an addition of 3,100 landed immigrants added to the work force. That means there are over 15,000 fewer Canadian born workers available to fill the jobs in New Brunswick. To be perfectly clear, that number includes both workers who are employed or actively seeking work. That number about matches the 2016 census numbers indicating a population decline in New Brunswick.
So what does that mean? It means we have a worker shortage holding back the growth of our local businesses, and we have a young people shortage across Canada – not just in New Brunswick and not just in Charlotte County. “The Conversation Tour” was an introduction to the challenge and frankly, how immigration can be a possible partial solution. As you see some of the new young immigrants around Town, reach out to them and make them feel welcome. They are here to help us and our businesses, just as much as they appreciate the opportunity to work here and start new lives.