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New Brunswick at the Dawn of a New Century

I. INTRODUCTION

For a generation now, New Brunswickers have been attempting to come to grips with powerful economic and social changes that are remaking the world in which we live. On the one hand, a deep restructuring of the global economy is changing essential features of our economy, and constraining the capacity of governments to act. On the other, powerful social changes are remaking the contours of our lives, and pressing governments towards new forms of intervention and action.

These developments, and their analysis, are a very important part of policy formulation. They help in explaining where we were, and can provide significant insight as to where we are headed.

It is in this context that the provincial government announced its intention to establish a Select Committee of the Legislature to examine the public policy implications of demographic changes on New Brunswick as it enters the twenty-first century. A Working Group of officials from a variety of social and economic departments was requested to provide an all inclusive demographic portfolio outlining key demographic information, and its potential policy implications for the province. More specifically perhaps, the project's underlying objective is to provide a solid demographic foundation to the development of future policy and strategic directions and to raise awareness of these issues.

This discussion paper then, is an attempt to identify future demographic changes. It does not claim to answer all the ambiguous, financial, economic, and social questions which might arise in the next decade. However, it will provide Government and the public with a clearer understanding of demographics, and how demographic changes are reshaping the province in which we live. It will further attempt to define the implications surrounding the application of such options. The uncertainty of how much the population will decline or increase in the next decade and beyond will make it difficult to provide precision to the issues we face. Therefore, we can only treat these as potential implications, as they are merely potential challenges.

Decades ago, social change took place at such a slow pace as to be invisible, but today, social change is so accelerated that the processes of change are highly visible. This is the first age for which this is true.
Nelson Thall, Marshall McLuhan Centre of Global Communications Toronto




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