Category Archives: New Brunswick

Urbanization in New Brunswick

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 2.13.50 PM

By Patrick Webber, AIMS Research Associate

New Brunswick is often thought of as a rural province, a perception aided by the province being the only one in Atlantic Canada that lacks a single dominant urban area. New Brunswick instead has three major urban areas of comparable population (Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton). However, census data over the last 25 years (1991-2016) show that New Brunswick is not only becoming an increasingly urban province, but that in terms of share of people living in “big cities,” New Brunswick has the most urban population in Atlantic Canada.

As the chart shows, the 2016 census found that just shy of one-half of New Brunswickers lived in the big three metropolitan areas, up from 42.5 percent in 1991.

The raw population numbers further illustrate the degree to which New Brunswick is becoming an urban place. Between 1991 and 2016, the population of the big three metro areas rose from 307,992 to 372,772, an increase of 21 percent. The rest of New Brunswick, meanwhile, saw its population during the same period decline from 415,908 to 374,329, a drop of 10 percent.

The percentage of New Brunswick’s population that lives in the three “big cities” in 2016 was 49.9. This makes New Brunswick the Atlantic province with the largest share of its population living in “big” urban centres. By comparison, 39.6 percent of Newfoundland & Labrador’s population lives in metro St. John’s, 43.7 percent of Nova Scotia’s population lives in metro Halifax, and 48.5 percent of PEI’s population lives in metro Charlottetown.

Examination of public sector in Western Canada remains necessary

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 8.32.47 AM

By Marco Navarro-Génie, President and CEO

The paper AIMS published last week with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy looked again at public sector workers in Canadian provinces, excluding the federal public service.  The new work placed an emphasis on Western Provinces;  the first one focused on the Atlantic region.

The type of reaction to the “Western” data paper in the Winnipeg Free Press caught my attention.  David Camfield, an associate professor of labour studies and sociology at the University of Manitoba was quick to dismiss the paper as a kind of fake news.  He charged that the paper was looking for troubles where there are none, and suggested the authors of the study thought the public sector workers are unimportant.  None of those comments had evidentiary bases in the paper.

Camfield did introduce substance to his criticism by addressing the issue of scales, which dictates that smaller provinces (in population) tend to be at a disadvantage.  This is true to some extent, and the observation is valid. But the critique is less effective because the measure we use (number of public servants per one thousand people) goes some distance to account for scale.

The data, in addition, show that other smaller provinces with similar profiles have fewer public sector workers per thousand residents than Manitoba.  The worst case in Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, has half the population of Manitoba. Newfoundland’s population is extended over a very large territory, yet Newfoundland has 101 public sector workers per thousand versus the 111 in Manitoba.

Manitoba is more densely populated (Newfoundland and Labrador has 1.31 inhabitants per square kilometer; Manitoba has 2.03).  Should it take 10 more public servants per thousand paid by provincial residents to deliver services in Manitoba than it does in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Manitobans ought to ask why it is that their provincial and municipal governments need so many public servants. 111 public servants per thousand drawing pay from the provincial taxpayer in Manitoba represent 28 more per thousand than the national average, or 34 per cent more over all.  Manitobans need to ask if the services they receive are 34 per cent better than those of the average Canadian. Are they 34 per cent better than in New Brunswick?

New Brunswick offers an instructive comparison with Manitoba.  While Manitoba has a notable French-speaking population (4 per cent), New Brunswick (and its relatively-high rural population) is officially bilingual (and 32 per cent francophone). It offers many public services in French, significantly increasing their delivery costs and often duplicating them.  Yet, New Brunswick is below the national average with 81 civil servants per thousand.

Our call for a thorough examination of the public sector’s size in Manitoba and Saskatchewan remains necessary.

Tagged ,

Good Policies Brewing in New Brunswick

In June, the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation (NBLC) introduced a regulation requiring craft brewers to sell 10,000 liters of beer through NBLC liquor stores before the government would issue them a Brewery Agency Store (BAS) license. NBLC’s CEO Brian Harriman argued, “The intention of the threshold before being allowed to sell growlers is not to stifle entry into beer or to force product through our system. It is to ensure people entering the category are able to financially support and produce quality products, which have consumer demand, and which are safe for the public.”

The BAS license is an important asset to New Brunswick’s craft beer industry, as it allows brewers to sell beer out of their establishment for offsite consumption. Yet, from the outset, it was unclear how the regulation was to improve New Brunswick’s craft beer industry and several brewers announced their discontent with it. The 10,000 liter threshold seemed arbitrary, and more importantly, the NBLC could not explain why mandating it was necessary for ensuring “quality products.”

Following weeks of debate, however, the NBLC announced it would reverse the new rules. Instead, the NBLC will require craft brewers to submit a sample of their product for quality testing at an independent clinic before obtaining a BAS license.

This development is seriously positive. First and foremost, it unburdens craft brewers in the province and allows them an opportunity to create jobs, generate wealth, and bolster tourism. More broadly, it demonstrates the government’s willingness to unshackle the economy. If elected officials and government agencies in the region wish to “stimulate” economic growth, perhaps they should follow suit and remove the shackles burdening other sectors of the economy: After all, the economic predicament facing Atlantic Canada may have less to do with stimulating the economy than it does getting out of its way.