New Brunswick

Bruce Fitch, David Coon responds to province's new economic plan

Interim Progressive Conservative leader Bruce Fitch says the province’s economic action plan is great at finding the problems, but it also needs to be able to find the solutions.

Interim PC Leader Bruce Fitch says the plan points out problems but not how to fix them

Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Bruce Fitch says it's hard to tell whether the provincial government is succeeding in economic growth because the new plan does not provide baseline numbers. (CBC)

The Progressive Conservatives and Greens are chastising the Liberal government's new economic growth plan for failing to come up with any new solutions or to tackle emerging issues.

Interim Progressive Conservative leader Bruce Fitch says the Gallant government's plan is great at finding the problems, but it fails at offering clear proposals to create jobs in the province.

"It's nothing new, and if they're just finding out some of the issues we're facing two years into they mandate then they're way behind," said Fitch on Information Morning Fredericton on Thursday. 

"It doesn't contain anything new or any new solutions to any of those problems that were articulated that we've been facing for a number of years now."

Premier Brian Gallant introduced the province's new economic plan on Tuesday. (CBC)

The plan focuses on developing new economic opportunities in areas ranging from marijuana and maple syrup to cybersecurity and the Energy East pipeline

Fitch said it is also difficult to see if the provincial government has been successful in growing the economy so far, because the plan does not provide a baseline for their numbers. 

"You don't have milestones you can measure against to say, 'Oh we are doing well, we are moving forward,'" said Fitch.

Economic growth from regional level

Green Party Leader David Coon said he was concerned by the lack of focus on growing the economy in the regions.

Green Party Leader David Coon says economic growth needs to happen at the regional level to be successful. (CBC)
"Economic growth needs to occur on the regional level," said Coon. 

"They don't have any more of the kind of capacity to implement the plan. We don't have a regional system of economic development agencies anymore at the local level. We don't have a department of economic development anymore which most people don't realize."

Coon was also disappointed on the plan's lack of discussion on climate change.

"It doesn't speak to climate change whatsoever," said Coon. 

"The premier is going to meet the prime minister and the other premiers in November to finalize a big plan to move us to a low carbon economy. There's very little in there that suggests that's where we're headed, in fact maybe in the other direction with the pipeline."

Missing strategies

Pierre-Marcel Desjardins, an economist at the University of Moncton, said the Gallant government will be able to claim the growth plan is a success because the targets are too vague. (CBC)
Pierre-Marcel Desjardins, an economist at University of Moncton, said there was a lot missing from the province's plan.

He said the provincial government needs to have better strategies for daycare, local food and access to capital. 

"It's still a work in progress and several components are simply not there," said Desjardins. 

Like Fitch, Desjardins said the provincial government failed at providing clear goals and benchmarks.

The economist said it's going to be easy for the Gallant government to look back on this plan and call it a success, because of that vague desire for improvement. 

"A lot of the objectives is improve, increase, better. That's easy to achieve," said Desjardins. 

"It's very difficult to say you didn't achieve your objectives when you simply said you want to improve something."

Jobs Board member says benchmarks weren't released

Susan Holt discusses why specific goals were left out of the economic plan and how to create a clear message about New Brunswick's economy. 7:07

Susan Holt, chief of business partnerships with the Jobs Board Secretariat, said the economic growth plan does have benchmarks, they just haven't been released. 

"We think the plan is actually really specific, it's more specific than government has ever been about which opportunities for growth we're going to develop," she told CBC News.

"I think partly because we were trying to get a vision and a message across and point people to where we want to go and highlight the pillars that we're developing and the 12 opportunities for growth."

With files from Information Morning in Fredericton

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