Commentary

New Brunswick Needs A Long-Term Vision To Overcome Economic Struggles

CENB President Marie Chamberlain, Diane, Jean-Guy and Sébastien Roy, and CENB CEO Thomas Raffy. Image: Inda Intiar/Huddle

Thomas Raffy is CEO of the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick.

By now, we’ve all heard it. Economically, New Brunswick has been ranked last out of all the provinces in Canada.

As New Brunswickers, this is certainly not the kind of news we like to hear, especially during this holiday season. Nor is it the kind of publicity we need to generate when we put so much energy and effort into attracting labour for our businesses, future residents in our communities, tourists in all four corners of our province or, quite simply, to convince our New Brunswickers to stay here.

More than a year ago, le Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick (CÉNB), in collaboration with other business organizations, launched the message that our province was at a crossroads and that it was essential to choose growth. The crossroads were last year. Today, we no longer have the “luxury” of choice. We have to act.

We can complain about our fate and harp on this news which, by the way, arrives without much surprise. We could also point a finger at certain people, decisions, or events and fall into cynicism. A highly preferable option would be to go into a solutions mode and to choose to propel our economy.

It is now essential for the best interest and the future of our province and of our citizens, to focus our discussions and our collective energy towards solutions. Faced with this emergency, I am convinced that we have the necessary resources on our territory to help New Brunswick move up the rankings.

To help us find concrete solutions, it seems fundamental to me to determine a long-term vision for our province. The succession of governments with four-year terms for several years has not allowed us to establish a clear, long-term vision to guide our province towards a common direction.

What is our long-term vision? One thing is certain, we cannot repeat the strategies and tactics of the past while thinking we are getting different results.

Given our situation, we have nothing to lose from being innovative and seeing opportunities that would position New Brunswick nationally and internationally. Having a common long-term vision would rally all the regions behind a game plan and allow our local businesses (the engine of our economy) to better align their activities accordingly.

In fact, with regards to our local businesses, and although economic news has very often a negative angle, it seems very relevant to me to point out that we have more than 25,000 small and medium-sized businesses in New Brunswick creating wealth for our communities.

We should mention companies such as the Distillery Fils du Roy, CÉNB’s Business of the Year, or Edmundston Truck Stop, Maison Beausoleil, Croisières Shediac Bay Cruises, Chopin Health Solutions, recipients of the 2019 CÉNB’s Coup de Coeurs des Membres awards, or all our CÉNB members. These business people show us day after day that ingenuity, determination and courage, all with a long-term vision, can lead to success.

So yes, New Brunswick’s economy is not in great shape. But one of our New Brunswick strengths is our resilience. Similar to the entrepreneurs I meet and who face uncertainty on a daily basis, we must think and act together in terms of solutions when it comes to the future of our province. A long-term vision for a sustainable economy will benefit everyone and ensure the vitality of all of our communities.

Our only way out is to go up. We will have to do it with a clear vision and, above all, do it together: so, are you ready to be part of the solution?

Huddle publishes commentaries from groups and individuals on important business issues facing the Maritimes. These commentaries do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Huddle. To submit a commentary for consideration, contact editor Mark Leger: [email protected]

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