I commend Wade MacLauchlan for his commentary re P.E.I. population and immigration strategy. It is my belief P.E.I. doesn’t have an immigration/population challenge – the issue is economic.
By necessity, people follow opportunity. It is easy to attain positive immigration and retain population – have economic opportunity for people to viably pursue their livelihood and lives.
Decades of growth in Charlottetown have largely been due to rural residents moving into a city where government employment has represented the leading economic opportunity on P.E.I.
We have arrived to a point where 65 per cent of the provincial GDP is government spending. Despite the perception to the contrary, rural areas, centred on primary industries, are net generators of tax money, yet rural areas are being eviscerated by government policy.
All over the Western world, debt-fueled centralization is failing and P.E.I. is on that track — current trends are increased debt, increased tax rates and a bankruptcy that forces Maritime Union.
Robin Wright aptly presents in his book ‘A Short History of Progress’ — the apex of centralization is at the precipice of the cliff’s edge from which a society falls to its end. The economic and governance structure of P.E.I. must change if we are to address issues on a sustainable basis – immigration and population included. The most critical matter is to rebalance the debt-fueled centralization that is dragging us to the cliff’s edge.
The essential question is, are we willing to endure the difficult process of change in order to create a new socio-economic reality or will we wait until unwanted change is forced upon us?
When urban areas start to experience the deflationary depression that exists in rural P.E.I., it will be too late to deal with the foreseeable crisis. We can create an economically sustainable province that offers viable economic opportunities for a growing populace or we can complain as we get pushed off the economic cliff.
In time we will find out if Islanders have the foresight, the courage, the strength and the ability to make the changes required to have a province that can support economic and population growth. Rural P.E.I. is already feeling a stiff breeze from the cliff’s edge.
Alan E. MacPhee,