Yesterday, in Miramichi, the conversation came around to economic development and the issues facing New Brunswick, especially the northern part of the province. I was told that a couple of years ago the foresters in the province said that we had about eight years of industrial harvests left and the fishermen felt that there weren’t even that many years left for an industrial fishery. At the same time it seems that governments at all levels are working on the assumption that nothing will change, in spite of certain sustainability task forces.
Rob Paterson has noted that in the province next door, PEI, there are also significant demographic issues:
By 2015, there will be more Islanders over 50 than under. Soon there will be more over 65. Who will do all the work? Who will lead the economy? Who will pay all the taxes to keep all us old folks in retirement homes? PEI will have the least amount of young except Newfoundland. Can we afford to have 65% of them as dependent as the old dears aged 85?
My main deduction from this is that all of our children will have to be net contributers (not just economically) to our society. However, our industrial schools are marginalizing too many children. Meanwhile, Alec Bruce tells us how highly qualified and educated immigrants are barred from fully contributing to our society:
Meet the physician from the Middle East, certified in three crucial specialties. Yet, no hospital in the Atlantic Provinces will touch him because the paper he carries does not convey designations familiar to provincial licensing authorities.
Meet the teacher from Arkansas, a graduate of Harvard and MIT. She works as a nanny in one of New Brunswickâ€™s poorly funded day care centres, where she wipes noses, prepares snacks, and recites Dr. Seuss to pre-schoolers.
Meet the engineer from Hamburg, an expert in bridge and overpass design. Heâ€™s a delivery man in Fredericton who deploys his considerable mathematical abilities to reconciling the dayâ€™s take with tomorrowâ€™s cash float.
We are facing economic, political and environmental challenges, and we have to fully engage all members of our society, from school-age children to newly arrived immigrants. We cannot afford to marginalize anyone, because it’s from the margins [the edges] that innovation will come.
One indication of the lack of willingness to even contemplate new ways of doing things is the wide condemnation, without an offer of alternatives, of the Post-Secondary Education report. I would say that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. My own effort to develop one way to face the post-industrial future has been the creation of a work & cultural Commons, and it seems that we are finally making some headway (more to follow on this).
So to anyone who is complaining – get off your butt and do something creative. We need everyone to get involved in creating options, because the folks on the margins [historically, the innovators] aren’t being allowed to participate (yet).