The NB Self-Sufficiency Task Force is making its recommendations, based on its stated realities of a “need to increase our population and our labour force”, “increase labour productivity by providing people with the right tools for he right jobs”, create “large-scale investments in infrastructure”, and “expand our existing corporate base”. All of this is premised on what appears to be the primary reality, that “Export growth must drive overall economic growth. This will create prosperity”.
The ways to achieve this are provided as 20 policy recommendations, including “Rebranding New Brunswick”, creating a “flexible incentives program to attract businesses” and conduct a “review of business tax policy”. The Task Force also recommends the establishment of several new organisations, including:
- A Commission on the Future of Local Governments
- An Aboriginal Employment Council
- A $1-billion Self-Sufficiency Fund (of which $500 million would be raised from long-term bonds from the Liquor Corporation)
- A not-for-profit corporation to raise funds necessary to develop an e-health system
- A centre of excellence for service delivery
In addition, the Task Forces recommends the “creation of a lean manufacturing program by the Research and Productivity Council” and a targeted immigration strategy.
I’m not an economic development specialist but I have worked with several NB companies, government departments and non-profits. I try to see patterns and determine the underlying foundation of operating models, to see what makes them tick.
It appears that the foundation for self-sufficiency is that we need to export our stuff and we need to get bigger companies (corporations) to locate here so that they can sell our stuff. In return we get jobs, and employees will continue to take their cars and drive to these places that generate the paycheques, from which the government will deduct taxes or invest their beer money profits. This money will create some think-tanks and money-lending agencies to fuel this economy.
So what’s new? Corporations create jobs based on shipping stuff that belongs to the people, especially our grandchildren. We get jobs to pay taxes and attract some more people to come and pay taxes. Everything goes along just fine as long as there is demand for our products. The corporations get richer and the average citizen remains a wage-slave. This is self-sufficiency?
In reading the reports, I didn’t see much that was innovative at all. Yes, there’s an understanding that “We need to be prepared for sweeping changes of unprecedented magnitude”, but little that explains how we can be better prepared. For instance, the need for education is stated, but it is assumed that the same outdated industrial structure is adequate for our societal needs. It is assumed that work will continue to be a place to which we commute, increasing the demand for roads. Recommendations for agriculture are to continue the corporatist model, whereas there is real innovative thinking coming from people like Rob Paterson on Food:
This series will be all about how we can practically, and in a generation, shift from a model where farming now profits only a few large external companies, where it creates serfs of our farmers and where it is ruining our biosphere. Shift from this to a model where it is our farmers who make the money and where farming is the most powerful beneficial force that restores and sustains the key services that give us all life on PEI.
This report seems to be a recommendation for business as usual, but under a new brand. It supports the entrenched powers, particularly faceless corporations who are not rooted in the land.
Thomas Homer-Dixon has said that we really need to develop resilience in order to be prepared for an uncertain future. The best tools available for that task are open source collaborative problem-solving and the Internet. The grassroots, who really understand the land and our communities now have the means to assemble and collaborate. It seems that real leadership and vision for our future as a resilient region is up to us.