Self-Sufficiency Task Force

Self-Sufficiency Task Force releases second report (07/02/12)

NB 172

Feb. 12, 2007

FREDERICTON (CNB) -- A growing labour shortage is the primary challenge confronting New Brunswick businesses, and addressing it will require a targeted economic development strategy that focuses on increasing exports across all sectors, say the co-chairs of the New Brunswick Self-Sufficiency Task Force.

(Multimedia)

In their second New Brunswick Reality Report, entitled An Export-Driven Economy, Self-Sufficiency Task Force co-chairs Gilles Lepage and Francis McGuire detail the opportunities and challenges for 16 sectors of the provincial economy.

They conclude that exports must drive economic growth in New Brunswick. As the province develops its economy, the task force believes that an emphasis should be placed on businesses that either have the potential to increase existing exports or to begin to export a new stream of goods and/or services.

To increase exports, the task force concludes that New Brunswick will need to target specific sectors for growth and systematically address the growing labour shortage. Traditional resource sectors will remain important contributors of jobs and income if measures are taken to maintain their productivity and competitiveness. However, growth will be led by the following sectors: energy, manufacturing and fabrication, aquaculture, information and communication technology, environmental technologies, customer contact centres, tourism and e-health.

To achieve the level of growth required to attain self-sufficiency, the report states that:

  • Existing businesses must invest in training, technology and equipment to improve productivity;
  • Business development strategies must build upon the existing strengths of each region; and
  • The New Brunswick economy must become more integrated across regions.

"To be successful communities and businesses will need to seize upon the opportunities before them and invest in their existing infrastructure and economic base," McGuire said. "Each region must target business opportunities that cater to their natural strengths and allow them to participate more fully in the larger, provincial economy."

As an example, the task force cites the energy sector in Saint John. The report states that within the next 24 months, as many as 5,000 skilled tradespeople will be needed in the Saint John region. This has the potential to draw workers from around the province and outside the region.

In addition, the manufacturing and fabrication sector can expect to benefit from major projects in the energy sector, such as the refurbishment of Point Lepreau, the construction of the Emera Brunswick Pipeline between Saint John and the Maine border and Irving Oil's proposal to build a second refinery.

"Business owners in other parts of the province should consider the needs of these projects and make the proper investments in their labour force and equipment so they can bid on work and reap the industrial benefits," Lepage said.

"We are a province of regions, and for years, each of the regions has developed its own economic agenda. We need to think bigger and consider the broader opportunities that exist if we think and act on a provincial scale."

The task force maintains this will require a significant investment in strategic infrastructure, which includes: road, air, sea and rail access; power transmission and distribution lines; telecommunications and wireless systems; and tourism infrastructure.

The report also states that investment in tourism infrastructure is particularly important for northern New Brunswick. Among its recommendations, the task force believes the government of New Brunswick should consider a $100 million investment in tourism infrastructure, of which $70 million would be earmarked for northern tourism development.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • New Brunswick should set as a goal to be a leader in sustainable development;
  • The province should take steps to increase wood supply to the forest industry by 25 per cent.
  • In order to facilitate rationalization in the sawmill industry, owners should be compensated if they voluntarily relinquish wood allocation to create larger wood allotments for remaining forestry sector players;
  • An oyster aquaculture industry should be aggressively developed along the province's northeastern coast to parallel the success in salmon aquaculture in the southwest;
  • Seafood processing companies should be encouraged to rationalize and significantly enhance productivity, which should lead to a doubling of salaries for workers;
  • The Government of New Brunswick must address access to capital for small and medium-sized businesses;
  • Satellite offices of existing customer call centres can be a growing source of employment for small-town and rural New Brunswick;
  • New Brunswick can establish itself as a leader in the development and delivery of electronic health services and homecare based around an enhanced Extra-Mural Program; and,
  • New Brunswick should develop research and development clusters in sectors that offer the greatest potential to compete on national and international stages, such as software, forestry, nuclear power, potatoes and cancer research.

"We as New Brunswickers must be prepared for change," the co-chairs state in the report. "The sooner we get at it, the better."

07/02/12

MEDIA CONTACT: Brendan Langille, Communications New Brunswick, 506-444-5070.

07/02/12