N E W S L E T T E R
OVERALL OBJECTIVE—GETTING NB BACK ON TRACK
WHO WE ARE – We are a group of community and business leaders who believed there was need for a nonpartisan organization that can provide informed advice and leadership that will enable the actions necessary for New Brunswick to succeed both socially and economically. We have been in existence for the past 18 months.
- We started by doing extensive research into the many issues facing the Province and discussing issues with consultants and advisors. Over a 6 month period, we met with dozens of experts in government finance, energy, healthcare, education, natural resources, economic development, and municipal reform. We asked our advisors to help us see New Brunswick from 30,000 feet. The picture wasn’t pretty. But the problems are clear from that vantage point.
- We then developed a set of principles that we believe could help get New Brunswick on track to sound governance, fiscal responsibility, good public services, and long-term, sustainable well-being.
- A webpage was designed outlining our goals and objectives, identifying the issues and in some cases offer solutions. Our webpage can be found at www.coalitionnb.com. We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- We prepared a power point presentation and talked to various service groups such as Rotary Clubs, Golden Club and other organizations.
- We invited the leaders of each of the Political Parties to meet with us and discuss their vision for New Brunswick.
- Members in our group were interviewed on CBC, Cable TV and other News Channels.
We are excited as more and more people are aware of our existence and keeping in touch with ideas and pragmatic solutions to solve many of the problems in New Brunswick
Over the past three months, we engaged a graduate student from St. Thomas University recommended by Dr. Tom Bateman. His name is Jon Taylor and his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He is currently doing research on the Universities in New Brunswick. His terms of reference is to gather as much information as possible regarding financing, student population, number of graduates, student mix (local versus foreign students), faculties, et al.
(ii) We were able to do a Power Presentation on Municipal Reform to Premier Higgs, Minister Carr and senior staff. Jean-Guy Finn did the presentation which summarized the Finn report that was completed in 2009. The presentation was well received. The Premier indicated his desire to move forward and will consult with our group on an ongoing basis. Other members of our Municipal committee includes Frank Flanagan, Ken Harding from Woodstock, and Alex Scholten.
(iii) Ken McGeorge is very active publishing a series on Health and Long term care. Most of the op-ed’s are published on Friday in all three newspapers. While Ken is doing these under his own name, he does represent the spirit of the Coalition and we are very supportive of his work. He is also working with the provincial authorities to deal with the issues in Special Care Homes.
(iv) Jim Carter with input from Ken and others has prepared a Power Point Presentation on Health Care Reform. This is a very comprehensive report that identifies the issues and leads us through to a vision for tomorrow. This is a very important piece of work and we thank Jim and others for doing this. The presentation will tentatively be made to the Minister of Health and entourage on June 26.
(V) Members of our group met with the Mayor of Saint John, Don Darling. It was a very intense meeting and we discussed many issues. Jean-Guy Finn was present as well as Les Smith, Andy MacPherson and Daryl Branscombe. The Mayor poured out his soul of his frustrations associated with the job. Obviously one of the issues was financing and he assured us that the City will not go bankrupt, as there is no mechanism in place to enable them to do so. Their operating loss last year was $10 Million and this year might be the same. He has further troubles with the Unions. Municipal reform was discussed at length including assessments and taxation. The notion of amalgamation with other municipalities is a non-starter. 56% of the budget is wages and 11% is debt repayment. There is little money left for other expenses. In cursory examination, wages seem higher than other municipalities including wages at Saint John Energy. The Irvings are willing to offer advice but not willing to adjust the tax base for the refinery and other holdings.
The meeting ended cordially and the Mayor thought our group could play a role in garnering support from other groups and educating the public of the systemic problems in New Brunswick. Notwithstanding, we believe at some point in time, the Province may have to step in and offer some form of assistance.
(VI) Bob Skillen made an excellent presentation to many of our group last week. The event was held at the conference room at Sam Snead’s. Bob’s message was the University had an important role to play in changing the province’s economic fortunes and they have conceived a plan to ratchet up their contribution. The first is in Engineering. In 2014, UNB was named Canada’s Most Entrepreneurial University. At the heart of our entrepreneurial ecosystem is the J Hebert Smith Centre for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship (TME), which has been in existence for over 25 years. More than 100 start-up companies have come out of TME over the past 8 years. They want to expand their entrepreneurial activities.
(2) Cybersecurity. There is an emerging cybersecurity industry in New Brunswick, largely in Fredericton. The Knowledge Park, of which UNB is a founding member, is poised to build a 135,000 square foot purpose-built building for cybersecurity. The building is nearly filled. UNB is an important asset in the city of Fredericton and a driver of economic activity.
(Vii) We plan to meet with the new liberal leader, Kevin Vickers, next week to introduce ourselves and seek his support of our efforts. We will discuss his vision for New Brunswick and hopefully make our power point presentations on municipal reform and health care reform at some time in the future.
(Viii) On the northern front we met with Dennis Caron, CEO of the Port of Belledune. He has grown activities at the port exponentially over the past few years. There are Five Growth Sectors including Energy, Forestry, Mining & Minerals, Agriculture, and Modular. As well, they are working with the NB Power’s plant in Belledune to create greater efficiencies with new technologies such as capturing CO2 emissions and utilizing waste from forestry activities and mill residue. These activities have potential to create hundreds of jobs, which are sorely needed in the North.
(IX) We are now seeking new Members. Forms are available and people can use their credit card to pay. Membership fee is $100 per annum. However, people who do not wish to become a member can still remain involved by making a donation.
(X) We have started writing a book which includes all the articles we have published and other strategies which will provide a vision for the future of New Brunswick.
You can reach us by phone 1-506-451-1357 or e-mail us at email@example.com