New Brunswick is beginning to witness positive economic trends and recent successes that will position the province for further economic growth.
- Last year New Brunswick’s economy grew at its fastest rate since 2010 and is showing signs of continued growth into 2016.
- Average weekly earnings have increased by 2.7 per cent since 2014, compared to Canadian growth of 1.8 per cent.
- Retail sales have increased for 11 of the last 12 quarters and the first quarter of 2016 saw gains of 9.4 per cent, the highest quarterly growth rate since the first quarter of 2010.
- New Brunswick has the best Internet access in the country by a significant margin over other provinces, with average download speeds of around 27 Mbps, according to a report from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.
- Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John were ranked as three of the four most cost competitive cities in Canada to do business, as reported in KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives 2016 report.
Deeper dive: We need to embrace the global economy
New Brunswick is a small province. Most of the products we consume – from food to consumer products like electronics and vehicles – are not produced here. To have a strong and growing economy, we must export products and services across Canada and beyond. At the same time, global competition for export markets, investment and talent has never been greater. There are global trends that will influence us regardless whether we are ready. We cannot pretend we are immune from them. We must find and exploit our place in the global economy. We must attract investment and talent from around the world.
Setting the Stage: The role of government to foster economic growth
A primary objective of government must be to restore growth and create jobs. We must realize the status quo is not acceptable. If nothing changes, eventually all of us will be hurt one way or another. What is holding us back? We have already taken steps to address our fiscal situation and grow our economy. The trends are proof of the steady gains in the economy but there is more to do. The climate is right for economic growth. We need to take bold steps and work in partnership to find solutions to the challenges we are facing and continue the recent positive economic growth trends.
Address the PEOPLE challenge: Reverse the shrinking workforce. Even as we face relatively high unemployment, we cannot be distracted from the problem of our shrinking workforce. We will not return to sustained growth without a deliberate and focused effort to expand the workforce, particularly among those younger than 40.
Address the INNOVATION gap: Our companies, institutions and governments spend less on R&D as a share of GDP than all other provinces. We rank near the bottom among the provinces for innovation capacity. If we want to return to sustained growth, we must expand investment in research, foster innovative companies and invest in the infrastructure that will make us a smarter province.
Address the CAPITAL gap: Ensure there is enough investment capital to foster growth. We need to ensure that entrepreneurs across the province have access to a broad range of private capital sources to spur investment and economic growth.
Address the strategic economic INFRASTRUCTURE challenge: We must invest in infrastructure that fosters competitiveness and stimulates private sector growth. We are committed to investing – from gateway infrastructure like ports and airports to innovation-enabling infrastructure – to drive competitiveness and growth.
Address the government’s AGILITY challenge: We must become more agile in how we work with industry and more proactive in our focus on economic development. There are many ways government can be more nimble and promote a more positive business climate while ensuring growth is consistent with social, environmental, aboriginal and community objectives. It can cut red tape. It can improve procurement. It can take less time to make decisions. Looking ahead, we will devote more time and effort to build a compelling value proposition that convinces companies to invest here.