Friday, June 5, 2015

Facts must be used when proposing changes to service delivery

Centralizing services and criticizing the opinions of Atlantic Canadians was at the core of a recent column by Don Mills, the president and CEO of Corporate Research and Associates.
In a May 23 column titled New Brunswick, an unsustainable promise and you Mills states the province should move to a centralized services model focusing on seven centres to serve 92 per cent of the provincial. He makes his case while making proclamations such as our population is too rural, dependent on seasonal work and unwilling to change which has lead to a poor fiscal state.
The New Brunswick Union has issue with several portions of the column, most notably its lack of facts. For instance, Mills is basing his claims on feedback from polling done by his company with 18,000 Atlantic Canadians. However, the breakdown between provinces is never shown. He claims broad themes emerged, but without showing the numbers, you can't be sure it's representative of the attitudes of New Brunswickers.
A second issue is that he's sent a variation of the same article to newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada with some slight adjustments. He's advocating for a one size fits all model for the region without taking into account various economic pressures and differences faced by each.
Further, there is no mention in Mills’ article of the importance of the seasonal industry to New Brunswick. Fishing, farming and tourism are, to a great extent, rural based industries and account for hundreds of millions of dollars to the provincial economy.
It can also be said that because of the economy's reliance on the above industries, which are rural-based, it makes sense for people to want to live near their place of employment.
Finally, the centralization model advocated by Mills would most likely result in job losses which means services would be impacted.
The New Brunswick Union is open to discussing ideas and changes that could be beneficial to service delivery in our province. However, in order for those talks to be productive, they need to be based on facts.