Thursday, May 24, 2012

Demographic Crisis Atlantic Canada

Addressing famine, there are two schools of thought. One is to deliver the food where it is needed. The other approach is to encourage people to move where the food is. You can apply that model to just about every policy controversy. Demography has not been kind to Atlantic Canada (same goes for the Rust Belt in the States). A response to the call to offer an incentive to leave:

Instead of an exodus, Atlantic Canada needs a population infusion. The region needs to attract tens of thousands of young workers (immigrants and migrants) over the next 20 years just to meet emerging labour market needs. In addition, the economies in the region need to grow to ensure they have the fiscal capacity to fund public services.

I agree. Domestically, moving to Alberta or Saskatchewan makes sense. Globally, funneling Canada's immigration to the population challenged is a smart move.

Make Halifax the gateway and encourage more internal geographic mobility. New Brunswick is short of immigrants. The Prairie Provinces command migrants. Don't cut off one leg to save the other.


Randy McDonald said...

Does it necessarily make that much sense to funnel people to Atlantic Canada for Canada as a whole?

(A note here: I'm from Atlantic Canada, from PEI no less, the only Atlantic Canadian province that has seen population gains in the past decade thanks to migration.)

Atlantic Canada is home to 2 of Canada's ~33M and an even smaller proportion of Canada's total economic output (both proportions in freefall since Confederation in 1867). Is trying to channel people to a region that's been consistently in decline necessarily a good thing?

It's noteworthy that migration _inside_ Atlantic Canada is tending towards a certain rationalization of population, with outlying rural areas contributing their populations to local cities: most of Newfoundland to St. John's, Acadians to Moncton, Nova Scotians to Halifax, et cetera. This is a good thing, since the old resource-based economy just isn't viable any more.

Jim Russell said...

Is trying to channel people to a region that's been consistently in decline necessarily a good thing?

Any kind of attraction to any region is a good thing. I also think encouraging migration (i.e. leaving) is a good thing regardless of whether or not a region is in decline. I agree with you about the intra-regional migration in Atlantic Canada.