Recognition of the existence of a problem is the first step to its resolution. As early as 2007, Passaris (2007) had identified a demographic deficit as one of the imminent economic problems in Brunswick. In her article, Passaris (2007) not only confirms its presence but also presents the contributing factors to the demographic deficit in this provide. The demographic deficit identified by Passaris (2007) refers to the imbalances in the population of the province as a result of factors ranging from age to sex (Tosun, 2013). While this is a general description of demographic deficit and its contributory factors, Passaris (2007) gives the specific factors that contribute the demographic deficit in Brunswick.
Some of the factors that cause the population imbalances include the inability of Brunswick to attract new immigrants significantly and its powerlessness in retaining these immigrants when they relocate into the province (Passaris, 2007). Other factors that contribute to the demographic deficit include low fertility rates and the aging population. This is an economic issue because among other things, it erects impediments to meeting the requirements for labor. The looming retirement of the baby boomer population will shift the population and also affect the labor force adversely. This is the labor that runs the economic activities that contribute to the economy of the province. This calls for an action plan that is not only effective but also sustainable. The development of Brunswick is a factor of the sustainable resolution of the problem of the demographic deficit.
The Action Plan
The action plan to resolve the demographic deficit in Brunswick is based on two elementary approaches. The first of the approaches is enhancing the native population of the province. Brunswick has the potential to replace its population loss through attrition if there are enabling conditions. Some of the approaches as argued by Passaris (2012) include increasing the birth rate in the province. This means more children for every fertile woman, an approach that will shift the population dynamics in the coming years. Passaris (2012) also argues that the native population can be increased by reducing the out-migration of people from the province to other provinces as well as other countries. The various ways through which this can be done will form part of the strategies upon which the action plan is based. Thirdly, the native population can be enhanced by attracting the expatriates of the province to relocate back into Brunswick. After the enhancement of the native population, there is also a need to supplement it via international immigration (Passaris, 2012).
Strategies for the Action Plan
The achievement of the two elements of the action plan above is dependent on various strategies.
Reversing the Birth Rate
The fertility rate of Brunswick is among the lowest among all the provinces in Canada.
Source: (Statistics Canada, CANSIM, 2013)
Increasing the birth rate in Brunswick requires policy and institutional approaches. These policy and institutional policies solve some of the factors that impede young parents from having more children. Some of the initiatives as argued by Passaris (2012) include offering parental leave, offering subsidized day care centers and flexible working hours and conditions. This is a model that has been applied effectively and sustainably in France to keep the fertility rate at a population-sustaining rate or above 2.0 (Toulemon, Pailhe & Rossier, 2008). Some of the incentives that have been applied in France include paid parental leaves of up to three years, subsidized day care for parents with children below three years, the guarantee of the job protection for the parents who go on leave, child care allowances that are commensurate to the number of children discounts on the use of public services, and stipends for nannies who tend to the children at home (Passaris, 2012).
Increasing the Net Migration
There is always the chance that people will move away from the province into other regions within the country or even to other countries. This element of the action plan does not focus on stop the emigration of people, but rather ensuring that more people immigrate into the province than those moving out, hence increasing the net migrations. Passaris (2012) highlights the importance of immigration as a solution to population growth for those territories with low birth rates. There are several benefits of immigration that add to resolving the demographic deficit. One of these benefits is the infusion into the labor force. This is important, especially because of the aging population in Brunswick (Passaris, 2012). Additionally, the people immigrating into the province add to the expertise and human capital skills (Wald & Tony, 2008).
The significance of immigration is that it has contributed to the growth of the Canadian population by one million between 2012 and 2015 (Jones, 2015) while Brunswick population reduced by 3,497 people in the same period. This is because while one of five (20%) Canadians are immigrants, only one out thirty-three (3%) of people in Brunswick are immigrants (Passaris, 2012). While attracting people into the province is important, it is even more important to ensure that the do not leave as has been the trend lately. To this effect, the strategies to be employed include enhancing the economic opportunities for both the natives and the immigrants, enhancing the linguistic duality in the province to integrate immigrants (Passaris, 2012). Given that immigrants come with foreign credentials as wells as experience from other countries or provinces, part of this strategy also entails implementing modalities for recognizing these qualifications and experience (Passaris, 2012). This will not only attract immigrants into Brunswick, but also help retain them.
The Integration of Social and Economic Policy
The interplay between social and economic policies means that the two policies cannot be made independent of one another. The multicultural policy of Brunswick was promulgated in 1986. The original objectives of the policy were to enhance equality in the treatment of the residents of the province their cultures notwithstanding. The policy was based on principles such as participation appreciation, equality, and the safeguarding of cultural heritages (Passaris, 2012). Several years after this policy was promulgated, there is still evidence of inequality, especially in the pay between the genders. The female workers in Brunswick earn 80.9 cents to the dollar earned by their male counterparts, and indication of a 19.1% wage gap (Government of New Brunswick, 2003). Integrating the social and economic policies will help enhance equality, an element that will in addition to improving the productivity of the women folk, help attract and retain immigrants.
Furthermore, the argument for the integration of the social and economic policies is underscored by Murrell & Fantauzzo, (2014) when he reports that the New Brunswick’s government approach to dealing with economic deficit is the reduction of the public service through retirement and attrition. Such one-sided policies will serve to reduce the government expenditure. However, they undermine the efforts to reduce the demographic deficit by phasing out skilled labor. A further ramification of this move is that with the reducing population, retiring the older population will reduce the gross domestic product. The product of the proposed integration of the economic and social policies is the extension of retirement age so as to not reduce the working population.
The outline strategy is aimed at resolving the demographic deficit that could threaten the growth of the province. The proposed strategies do not work independent of one another. The success of this action plan is dependent on the cumulative effect of the various elements of this strategy.
Espenshade, T., Guzman, J. and Westoff, C. (2003). The surprising global variation in replacement fertility. Population Research and Policy Review 22 (5/6): 575.
Government of New Brunswick. (2003). Closing New Brunswick’s Wage Gap: An Economic Imperative. Final report of the New Brunswick wage gap roundtable. Retrieved from http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/eco-bce/WI- DQF/pdf/en/ClosingNBWageGap.pdf
Jones, R. (2015). New Brunswick is fastest-shrinking province, statistics show. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-brunswick-is- fastest-shrinking-province-statistics-show-1.3129339
Murrell, D. and Fantauzzo, S. (2014). New Brunswick’s Debt and Deficit: A Historical Look. Retrieved from http://www.aims.ca/site/media/aims/AIMS2014- NB%20Debt%20Study,%20Final%20(prepared%20for%20publication)(1).pdf
Passaris, C. (2007). Province’s demographic deficit needs to be resolved. The Daily Gleaner. Retrieved from http://www.migrantworkersrights.net/en/resources/province-s- demographic-deficit-needs-to-be-resolved
Passaris, C. (2012). New Brunswick’s perfect demographic storm. Journal of New Brunswick Studies. Retrieved from https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/JNBS/ article/view/20080/23109
Statistics Canada, CANSIM (2013). Births and total fertility rate by province and territory. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/hlth85b- eng.htm
Tosun, M. (2013). Demographic deficit and migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. Hoboken. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Toulemon, L., Pailhe, A. and Rossier, C. (2008). France: High and stable fertility. Demographic Research, 19(16): 503-556.
Wald, S. and Tony, F. (2008). Over educated immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market: Evidence from the Workplace and Employee Survey. Canadian Public Policy 34 (4): 457 - 47