Self-Sufficiency Task Force

Self-Sufficiency Task Force releases final report (07/05/07)

NB 567

May 7, 2007

FREDERICTON (CNB) -- The Self-Sufficiency Task Force is recommending the Government of New Brunswick move quickly to enact the majority of the task force's recommendations within the next year.

(Multimedia)

The task force's final report, The Road to Self-Sufficiency: A Common Cause, lays out an aggressive timeline for change, recommending the provincial government address 80 of its 91 recommendations by May 2008.

The remaining 11 recommendations are to be completed within two to five years.

"New Brunswickers are ready for a bold public policy agenda," task force co-chair Francis McGuire said. "Throughout our consultations and focus groups, we heard one overriding theme - people want action. There is a strong level of acceptance that our province needs to transform itself."

In addition to the desire for a strong government agenda, the task force noted 11 common themes were echoed through the many presentations and conversations they had with New Brunswick residents.

Those themes were:

  • The important role of community initiatives;
  • The power of youth;
  • Access to early child care is fundamental to social and economic progress;
  • Small is beautiful;
  • Growth cannot be at the expense of the environment
  • There is a lack of consensus on how best to manage Crown forests;
  • Small business development initiatives must be maintained;
  • The public K-12 education system is in need of reform;
  • The existing local governance model is ineffective;
  • There is a need for a broader, province-wide perspective;
  • There is a lack of trust in public institutions and corporations; and
  • The time has come to act.

"New Brunswickers have the province in their heart and they want what is best for their families. That is why they are ready for change," task force co-chair Gilles Lepage said. "As this process concludes, I am left with a very strong impression that New Brunswickers want to be part of the solution. They will have to be, because it will take all of us to make this happen."

The majority of the task force's final recommendations reflect the ideas and proposals that were explored in the task force's three discussion papers. The final report contains 20 additional recommendations that reflect ideas proposed by New Brunswick residents.

Those recommendations include:

Business Development and Attraction

  • Strengthen the arts and culture sector by supporting export-related initiatives for artists (including training in export-readiness) and by allowing one per cent of the cost of public buildings to be designated for high quality architectural design and public art.

Labour Market

  • Re-examine policy regarding casual employment within the public service, particularly in instances where casuals are continually employed in jobs that are in reality are ongoing.
  • Move quickly to address the issue of employment equity.
  • Develop a strategy for expanding public daycare facilities, expanding spaces as funds become available, and encourage more businesses to offer services, particularly where shift work (evenings and weekends) is required. As a first priority, triple the number of registered spaces for children up to the age of 2 years. Continue to press for federal support.
  • Support the expansion of private sector services dedicated to matching employees with employers.

Education and Training

  • Emphasize an outcomes-oriented system in K-12 education, incorporating transparency, accountability, accreditation and resources for special needs children.

Energy

  • Commission an independent cost allocation study to address the issue of properly allocating fixed costs between domestic and industrial users of electricity.
  • Assign Business New Brunswick with responsibility to examine and aggressively pursue potential to develop petrochemical opportunities as part of energy hub development. Establish a clear, effective and efficient regulatory system to enable the development of business opportunities in the petrochemical industry.

Forestry

  • Encourage private woodlot owners and industrial purchasers of their wood to work together to establish an equitable marketing arrangement including a code of conduct for industry.
  • Support private woodlot marketing boards in strengthening their role with respect to silviculture, certification, education and market development.
  • Support the forestry industry in the development and implementation of an integrated online logistics database on wood movements within the province to facilitate the exchange of wood between companies thereby minimizing trucking distances to mills, transportation costs and energy use. The feasibility of providing access to this system by woodlot owners should also be examined.

Food-Producing Sectors

  • Investigate the potential for converting marginal farmlands to the production of trees for biofuel purposes.
  • Support a major research initiative focused on the development of new products using the by-products of fish processing.
  • Develop a policy framework to ensure access to adequate volumes of fish/shellfish waste where viable processing opportunities are identified.
  • Work with the federal government to revise fisheries - related legislation, regulations and polices, to allow seafood processing operations to enter into long-term arrangements with owners of fishing vessels to provide greater certainty of access to fish.

Environment and Sustainable Development

  • Establish a comprehensive regional planning process for all areas of the province that places an emphasis on the environment, sustainable development, land use, housing, infrastructure and social and economic development. Innovative approaches to citizen engagement should be an integral part of the planning process.
  • Establish a federal-provincial framework agreement to share the cost of innovative projects involving the design, development and application of green technologies by private sector businesses in New Brunswick.
  • Create a sustainable development focus around initiatives such as waterfowl and fish habitat restoration and maple sugar bushes that emphasize the eco-tourism potential of streams and forests and are compatible with land use planning, energy conservation, wellness, and quality of life.

Relationships

  • Provide leadership with respect to labour relationships in an increasingly tight labour market by negotiating a five-year agreement over which period public sector wages would increase to competitive levels. Agreement would include targets for intake of young people and Aboriginals.
  • Support and encourage private sector support for 21inc. as a means of ensuring that the up-and-coming generation of leaders has an opportunity to develop a broad appreciation for the cultural, social and economic fabric of New Brunswick.

"The final report brings to a close the work of the Self-Sufficiency Task Force. On behalf of my co-chair Francis McGuire, I would like to thank all New Brunswickers who participated in this important conversation," LePage said.

Information about the task force, its reports and discussion papers are available online at: http://www.gnb.ca/2026.

07/05/07

EDITOR'S NOTE: The full list of recommendations is available online. MEDIA CONTACT: Brendan Langille, Communications New Brunswick, 506-444-5070.

07/05/07