Goldy Hyder, general manager of Hill+Knowlton’s Ottawa office, recently appeared as part of a forum on the future of New Brunswick’s natural resource economy. The following article about the forum appeared in New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and captured some of Goldy’s views on this issue.

Develop industry now, says policy expert

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
Tue Jun 5 2012
Page: A3
Section: Main
Byline: Adam Huras Legislature Bureau

MONCTON – The time is now to develop the shale gas industry in New Brunswick – demographically speaking, according to a population policy expert. Michael Haan, a University of New Brunswick sociology professor and the Canada Research Chair in Population and Social Policy, says the province’s demographic challenges currently serve as an advantage, but only for a little while longer.

The province is losing its young people and gaining New Brunswickers at retirement age at a relatively equal rate. While that combination likely spells disaster if it continues, it currently equates to the lowest dependency ratio that the province has seen in the last two decades.

The province’s dependency ratio – the proportion of the population not of working age compared against those of age to be a part of the labour force – remains low because the population of New Brunswickers under the age of 15 has steadily declined. Haan argued the financial cost of dependents to the province is high – whether young or old. He said gains in total dependency will diminish as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age, but that the successful development of the province’s natural resources could also help counteract that.

New Brunswick’s second-largest age cohort is about to enter the workforce and is in search of work.

“They are the people that are likely to engage in the work that is required around resource development,” Haan said. “They are also the age group that is most likely to move.”

Haan said that resource development not only retains young people, but it attracts young people.

“Time is limited,” he said. “This is a pretty good time to have this discussion.

“Coming from a demographer, there is really no better time to explore resource development.”

Haan made the comments on Monday as part of a forum on the future of the province’s natural resource economy in Moncton on Monday.

Goldy Hyder, general manager of Ottawa-based national communications firm HK Strategies and another of the forum’s presenters, said non-governmental organizations are leading the debate on natural resource development.

“NGOs or opponents of natural resource development or those advocating for a more responsible approach to development are motivated and committed to telling their story the way they see it,” he said.

Hyder said the result is that “perception is shaping the narrative.”