May 3, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following statement was released today by Francis McGuire and Gilles Lepage, co-chairs of the Self-Sufficiency Task Force. MEDIA CONTACT: Brendan Langille, Communications New Brunswick, 506-444-5070.
FREDERICTON (CNB) - "As co-chairs of the self-sufficiency task force, we are pleased to report today that our work is nearing completion and we are preparing to release our final self-sufficiency report to government on Monday, May 7. It is the culmination of several months of presentations, meetings around the province, hundreds of written submissions and comments on the discussion board and completed surveys.
"Late last year, we were asked by Premier Shawn Graham to reach out to New Brunswickers, asking them to share their vision of New Brunswick in 2026. What would the province look like and how would it change for the better? The Premier also asked us to report on these meetings, making clear recommendations about what transformational changes were needed to put New Brunswick on the road to self-sufficiency.
"Operating at arms length from government allowed us the flexibility to engage New Brunswickers on any topic, regardless of controversy, and we appreciate that government withheld judgment until the completion of our work.
"Our goal throughout the process was to stimulate debate. Oftentimes, having an honest and open dialogue means considering different viewpoints and endeavoring to see the big picture through a variety of lenses. Encouraging as many viewpoints as possible meant injecting the self-sufficiency discussion into the public domain: into the coffee shops, hockey rinks, boardrooms, classrooms and work sites of New Brunswickers.
"In reaching out to New Brunswickers, we asked them to respond with where they saw the province in 20 years and suggestions about how to get there. Their response was significant. Between March 14 and 18, the task force held four days of consultations in Fredericton and heard 46 presentations. In addition, the task force met with dozens of groups in communities throughout New Brunswick and received over 400 written submissions.
"The task force deliberately went beyond the traditional model of public 'consultations,' complementing meetings and consultations with online conversation, using its website as the primary means of communications. In total, 261 comments were posted on the discussion forums and the task force received 926 completed surveys.
"We were particularly impressed with the quality of the input we received. Thoughtful and well-researched, the submissions raised both significant questions and innovative solutions to some of the challenges facing our province.
"Over the last four months, we heard from a myriad of diverse groups, each holding their own view on how their futures and our province's future could be improved. Diverse as their opinions are, we were struck by the common thread that connected virtually all of them: the recognition that change was necessary and that the status quo was no longer acceptable.
"It is clear that self-sufficiency will unfold more like a novel than a newspaper article. It will not be characterized by a single person or a single theme. It will not be achieved by a single government policy or by injecting funds into a single sector. Rather, it will be the story of a better, stronger New Brunswick developing over many years. Self-sufficiency is about transformative change and broad actions that we can take now in order to effect the desired change for the betterment of all New Brunswickers. That is why the vast majority of our final recommendations will deal with those measures that can be acted on over the next 12 to 24 months.
"We both sincerely appreciate the response to our work to date, and we look forward to presenting our final report to government and the people of New Brunswick on Monday, May 7.