Student Enrolment and Education Staffing in New Brunswick (Updated 2014)

[Note: The Chartboot plugin used to create charts and graphs is no longer maintained; new charts were prepared using interactive Google Sheets in October 2015. These differ somewhat from the previous charts, but the same datasets are used]

[Note: Data and commentary updated April 2015, to reflect data added up to Sept 30, 2014 (i.e. 2014/2015 school year]

Demographic trends in New Brunswick show an aging population, with a decline in school-age population over time. This has a number of implications, including school closings and consolidations, reduced employment opportunities for teachers, and education budgets. Data from Statistics Canada Cansim Table 477-0025 and GNB Education Department statistical summaries show a troubling pattern. Between 2002 and 2012, student populations (elementary and high schools) declined by 16% in New Brunswick compared to 7% for Canada as a whole. The decline in student populations from 2002 to 2014 in New Brunswick was 18%.

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Saint Savoie mounts his white charger, and gallops off in all directions….

Professor Donald Savoie was invited recently by Brunswick Press to pen a series of articles outlining New Brunswick’s fiscal predicament and providing his remedies to the situation. Dr. Savoie is a very well-respected expert in issues pertaining to public administration and the relationships between the public service and politicians. On the other hand, he does not appear to have any particular expertise in economic development per se. While he can speak to administration and governance issues with a great deal of authority, his views on how economic development and fiscal matters are perhaps less valuable. It might have been more useful if Brunswick Press had found a group of subject experts and had them tackle those issues pertinent to their expertise (that raises the question as to why we get so little in analysis and commentary on New Brunswick issues from taxpayer-funded university staff). In any event, here is a brief rundown of his commentaries:

June 5 Fiscal Crisis Sparks Call to Action

Dr Savoie starts off well-enough; he reviews the financial issues the province faces and points out that, while the Province relies upon transfer payments for significant amount of its revenues, there is growing resentment in some parts of the country with respect to these transfers. The federal government is taking steps to slow down the growth in funds they transfer to the ‘have-not’ provinces. Add to that a stagnant economy and a significant debt, and it is clear the province is in difficulty. What to do?

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A non-optimal solution to Fredericton’s noisy motorcycle problem

With some trepidation, the owner of this blog has agreed to allow the following post by an old acquaintance. Dicky Floridian has always been a bit of a shady character; he is constantly engaged in one scheme or another, many of which have been of a dubious legal and /or moral nature, and, insofar as I can tell, have rarely succeeded. Still, he soldiers on and retains an unlikely and perhaps unwarranted sense of optimism. He has asked that I post his proposal and I do so while pointing out that what follows is entirely the creation of Mr Floridian.

Hello folks! Dicky Floridian here. I am interrupting the usual erudite posts presented by the author of this blog to (with his permission) discuss my latest initiative. Some of you may have heard that I am preparing an opus on my work on the creativity theory of economic development. Although my original idea was used by a distant cousin (who cynically changed his name to avoid the connection, then went on to make millions from my creation), many have urged me to write the true story. And I am doing just that. But I felt that I had to interrupt that historical work in order to bring you this new idea. It is an exciting economic opportunity that makes use of both New Brunswick’s natural resources and our unique culture.

Many of you are aware of the dispute raging between motorcycle enthusiasts and those upset about the noise made by these machines. Some municipalities have even brought in or contemplated by-laws to enforce noise standards on motorbikes. The village of Fredericton is currently considering such a bylaw, but surely what we need here is provincial legislation. Cyclists claim that the high noise levels are important for safety reasons. The evidence on that seems to be mixed, but there can be no doubt that a safety issue does exist in regard to visibility of motorbikes. It seems to me that this provides an economic opportunity for New Brunswickers.

I therefore propose the following, which is designed to address both the noise and safety issues, and yet (I freely admit), in typical New Brunswick fashion, fails to resolve completely either concern:

Under my proposal, motorcyclists will have two options regarding noise produced by their machines. The bike will either be ‘whisper-quiet’ (the decibel range to be specified later, but, once established, no further restrictions will be placed on operation of the bike meeting that limit) or produce a louder noise. In the latter case, bikers will be obliged by provincial law to sport neon pink, neon orange or neon green clothing. Only one colour may be used per bike/biker combination. Small patches may be used to provide an identifier (e.g. a bike club name) but the colour selected must cover at least 90% each of the clothing and bike. This would also include the helmet.

The law would have immediate effects. Most bikers will prefer converting their bikes to run quietly rather than wear neon-coloured clothing that might identify them as being ‘less-than-manly’. That will result in a rapid abatement of the noise issues surrounding motorcycle use in the province. However, it is recognized that there will be a small number of bikers who choose to have loud bikes, even if it means wearing brightly-coloured clothing. For them, in fact, those colours may become a source of pride. That in fact opens up an economic opportunity for NBers. As noise abatement laws spread across North America, having a location where you can be loud and proud would be welcome by certain motorcyclists, even if it means wearing neon clothes. Colourful motorcycle tourists would pour into the province providing business for hotels, restaurants, and bars. Now, I would not pretend that these dollars would come anywhere near close to the $7 billion that we now expect from the Frank McKenna Memorial Pipeline and Shale Gas Bonanza, but every dollar counts.

Of course, to preserve our sanity, we would have to restrict these motorcyclist visitors to certain weeks of the year. I suspect, however, that such restrictions would simply increase the allure; various motorcycle sporting events, for example, could be held at this time. To differentiate out-of-province motorcyclists from locals, I propose that those ‘from away’ have small triangle-shaped flags attached to the tops of their helmets via short poles. These flags could be of various colours and designs, perhaps serving to identify their place of residence.

I am sure that you will agree with me that this is an elegant solution to the motorcycle noise problem. I admit it may be seem counter-intuitive to allow ‘quiet’ bikes to opt out of the neon clothing requirement. Would wearing this clothing not increase biker safety? Of course it would, but when it comes down to it, bikers have the right to put themselves in harm’s way. In any event, I believe I have provided not only a way to reduce the motorcycle noise problem, but also a way to generate tourist dollars for NB. Someone should seek an ACOA grant to further develop this idea.

I remain your humble servant,
Dicky Floridian
Taymouth NB

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