Planning for Community Resiliency in Recovery from COVID-19: October 2, 2020

Dr. Sandra Magalhaes, Madeleine Gorman-Asal, Paramdeep Singh, Chandy Somayaji


Population-based risk indicators can support decision-making in planning for future waves of, and recovery from, COVID-19. They can inform efforts to limit spread and exacerbation of infection in those most at risk and help identify at-risk groups likely impacted by measures to limit spread. 

As part of our research, we are deriving risk indicators using population-level data that can help identify vulnerable populations who may be at higher risk of consequences related to COVID-19 infection or public health restrictions, including 

  • poor health outcomes associated with infection, 
  • greater risk of infection in collective dwellings, 
  • mental health impacts associated with distancing measures, 
  • poor educational outcomes due to school closures, and 
  • financial vulnerability associated with employment interruptions. 

While stay-at-home measures aim to reduce community spread of infection and protect those vulnerable to poor health outcomes, they increase proximity among those living in collective dwellings. In the absence of complete lockdown, the opportunity for infection to enter the home exists. Those living in residential facilities (e.g. special care homes) and apartments have greater risk of infection. As measures relax, schools re-open, which further increases opportunity for transmission across households. Public health measures to control spread of COVID-19 may also have unintended consequences for individuals residing alone, low-income families, individuals with uncertain employment, children with special needs, individuals susceptible to mental health challenges, and those with chronic conditions unable to manage them effectively. 

The goal of our research is to develop an analytical framework to generate community level indicators that are relevant to COVID-19 pandemic planning and recovery efforts in New Brunswick. 

Planning for Community Resiliency in Recovery from COVID-19: October 2, 2020

Self-employment trends in New Brunswick: 1982-2016

Pablo Miah, Philip Leonard, Ted McDonald


New research paper - fresh off the press!

Report: Self-employment trends in New Brunswick: 1982-2016 (2020) (Full colour)
Report: Self-employment trends in New Brunswick: 1982-2016 (2020) (Greyscale)

Rapid response report on lifting restrictions for COVID-19: April 16, 2020

Ted McDonald, Eton Boco, Eva Christensen, Bethany Daigle, Chandy Somayaji


The purpose of this rapid review (Part 1 in a 2-part series) is to examine the literature on the various steps being taken around the world to lift restrictions implemented to suppress the spread of COVID-19 – including social restrictions, such as those related to physical distancing, and economic restrictions, such as those affecting the closure of non-essential stores and other businesses.

We find that some restrictions, such the closure of schools and non-essential stores and services, are more commonly among the first to be lifted – though this is done so gradually and with accompanying physical distancing and hygiene requirements. Countries around the world have also begun to ease and/or recommend measures impacting travel, recreation, and sectors of the workforce. While it is too soon to observe the outcomes for many of these measures, modelling studies and observations of case trajectories in Asia suggest a COVID-19 resurgence is likely to occur as restrictions are eased – but if appropriate measures are in place to monitor further infection and reinstate intermittent restrictions, future resurgence could be managed.

The information presented herein on the experiences of other locations ahead of New Brunswick in their COVID trajectories and in the process of reopening their economies can provide valuable insights into the steps this province could take when lifting its own restrictions in future. For Part 2 of this report, we propose to supplement the current work with a qualitative review of the outcomes of easing restrictions, as well as quantitative metrics on the indicators leading up to lifting restrictions – both of which will be used to guide a discussion of implications for scaling back COVID-19 restrictions in New Brunswick.

Report - Part 1 - Rapid response report on lifting restrictions for COVID-19 April 16, 2020
Report - Part 2 - Lifting restrictions for COVID-19: Implications for New Brunswick April 26, 2020

Rapid response reports on COVID-19 projections in New Brunswick

Erfan Mahmood Bhuiyan, Eva Christensen, Bethany Daigle, Sandra Magalhaes, Ted McDonald, Pablo Miah, Chandy Somayaji


This series of reports provides successive updates of projections that the trajectory of COVID-19 cases could follow in New Brunswick based on the experiences of other countries and regions who experienced initial COVID-19 infections earlier than NB. Specifically, these projections estimate what NB’s incident cases, hospitalizations and mortality might be if our province experienced disease trajectories similar to a range of comparison countries and regions, for both 10-day forward and peak infection scenarios. By updating our estimates in subsequent reports as more data become available, we are able to examine how NB is actually doing relative to those scenarios and use the updated data to revise our forecasts accordingly. 

Rapport - Rapport d’intervention rapide concernant la COVID-19 au Nouveau-Brunswick : Le 31 mars 2020 (2020)
Report - Rapid response report on COVID-19 in New Brunswick: March 31, 2020 (2020)
Report - Update: Rapid response report on COVID-19 in New Brunswick: April 14, 2020 (2020)
Report - Update: Rapid response report on COVID-19 in New Brunswick: April 27, 2020 (2020)

Rapid response report on dedicated resources for COVID-19: April 8, 2020

Eva Christensen, Bethany Daigle, Ted McDonald, Chandy Somayaji


As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, policy makers and health care workers are progressively trying to determine best practices for handling the disease – particularly when caring for infected patients. One key question that emerges is whether having dedicated resources (spaces and services) for COVID-19 effectively controls the spread, decreases the severity, and mitigates the cost of the disease – in terms of costs to health care, societal disruption, individual health outcomes (such as scarring of the lungs), and, ultimately, lives lost. This report presents a summary of how health systems in various countries have been separating healthcare resources during pandemic medical management. This includes measures aimed at separation of COVID-19 and non-COVID patient resources, both in terms of separate physical structures for dedicated COVID care and of separation within existing structures, as well as policies aimed at preventing overlap and exposure between point sources of care for medical personnel. 

Report - Rapid Response Report on Dedicated Resources for COVID-19: April 8, 2020 (2020)

Key Factors in the establishment of an academia-government center of public sector administrative data and policy research

Ted McDonald, James Ayles


Summary coming soon...

Journal - Key Factors in the establishment of an academia-government center of public sector administrative data and policy research (2018)

The Use of Public Libraries in New Brunswick, 2010-2018

Herb Emery, Bethany Daigle, Ted McDonald


Can public libraries remain relevant in an era of lightning-fast Internet access, Kindle e-books, and Amazon Prime’s 2-day book deliveries? Most New Brunswickers admit to loving their public libraries, but how many actually use them? 

Studies show that public libraries provide valuable social capital within their communities. They bring people together, create trust, provide information, and contribute to overall communal well-being. Yet, libraries are increasingly pressured to demonstrate their value and their usefulness to the public. 

In an attempt to demonstrate library value, researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) examined the use of public libraries in NB from 2010 to 2018 by looking at how many library cards are being used and how many items are being checked out. 

Results show that active borrowers’ demand for NB public libraries grew by 8% from 2010-2018. Since 2015, the number of active borrowers has been increasing in the South of the province (13%), especially in Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton (19%). The authors find this positive trend is driven by population growth in the South, and that demand for libraries in the North remains constant, despite slow population growth and a suffering economy. 

Disruptions to library services (i.e., closure, renovations) did not lower demand for library services. Instead, library use increased, especially between 2015 and 2016, likely as a result of policy changes, including (i) more flexible ways of providing library cards, (ii) the elimination of overdue fees for children, and (iii) the opening all public libraries on Saturdays (and some on Sundays).

Overall, the growth and steady demand for Public Library services in NB is remarkable, given the technological and social changes taking place throughout the province.

Report - The Use of Public Libraries in New Brunswick, 2010-2018 (2019) (Colour)
Report - The Use of Public Libraries in New Brunswick, 2010-2018 (2019) (Black & White)
Rapport - L’utilisation des bibliothèques publiques au Nouveau-Brunswick, de 2010 à 2018 (2019)

Through the legal maze: An Act Respecting Research

Ted McDonald, Patricia MacKenzie, Krista Barry


Conference Presentation - Through the legal maze: An Act Respecting Research (2018)

Sharpening the focus

Nicole Doria, Donna Curtis Maillet


Summary coming soon...

Journal - Sharpening the Focus: Differentiating Between Focus Groups for Patient Engagement Vs. Qualitative Research (2018)

Does Exposure Prediction Bias Health-effect Estimation?

Mark Goldberg, Paul Villeneuve, Dan Crouse


Summary coming soon...

Journal - Does Exposure Prediction Bias Health-effect Estimation? The Relationship Between Confounding Adjustment and Exposure Prediction (2017)

Immigrant Retention in New Brunswick

Philip Leonard, Ted McDonald, Pablo Miah


How many immigrants typically land in New Brunswick? And how many stay? 

In an effort to boost the population and economy of New Brunswick, the provincial government has invested many resources in attracting and retaining immigrants. One such initiative is the Provincial Nomination Program (PNP), which accelerates the immigration and Permanent Resident application process for skilled workers and immigrants (and their family members) with experience in business.

In this report. researchers from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) use linked data from BizNet and the Citizen Database to investigate the number of landings (2001-2017) and retention rates (2005-2017) of immigrations in New Brunswick, focusing in particular on immigrants who arrived through the PNP. 

Results show that the number of Provincial Nominees has been steadily rising since 2005, reaching over 950 a year in 2017. Meanwhile, of the Nominees in New Brunswick long enough to receive a Medicare number, 75% remain in province one year later; 60% remain 3 years later, and less than 50% remain 5 years later. Report findings indicate that New Brunswick retains approximately 64% of targeted immigrants through the PNP. 

Findings also show that the largest number of Provincial Nominees has consistently come from China, though the number from the Philippines has been increasing rapidly since 2016. Immigrants from the Philippines also have the highest retention rates.

Future updates to the Citizen Database and BizNet datasets will make it possible to analyze retention rates of applicants through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot as well. 

Report - Immigrant retention in New Brunswick: Results from BizNet and Citizen Database (2019) (Colour)
Report - Analysis of unmatched immigrants in the BizNet Database (2020) (Colour)
Report - Immigrant Retention in New Brunswick: Results from BizNet and Citizen Database (2019) (Greyscale)
Report - Analysis of unmatched immigrants in the BizNet Database (2020) (Greyscale)

The Impact of Official Bilingualism on the Geographic Mobility of New Brunswickers

J. C. Herbert Emery, PhD Li Wang, MA Bethany Daigle, MA


Are bilingual New Brunswickers more or less likely to move? 

New Brunswick is both the only bilingual province in Canada and the province with the highest rates of outmigration and intra-provincial (within the province) migration. Much attention has been paid to the problem of outmigration and movement from rural to urban areas in New Brunswick, as well as to bilingualism within the province – yet, these topics are not typically associated. Is it possible that bilingualism has an impact on the movements of New Brunswickers?

In this report, researchers from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) use data from the 2006 and 2016 Census of Population and the 2011 National Household Survey to determine the effect of official bilingualism on the geographic mobility of New Brunswickers – that is, on their movements to relocate. They control for variables known to impact migration decisions, such as age, gender, marital status, and education level; and focus on the origins and destinations of New Brunswickers who move, while also examining the linguistic characteristics of New Brunswickers who remain in place. 

Results show that New Brunswickers with an English mother tongue are the most likely to leave New Brunswick – regardless of whether they are bilingual or unilingual. Meanwhile, acquiring a second official language is most highly associated with intra-provincial migration, suggesting that bilingualism improves labour market efficiency in New Brunswick by increasing the mobility of both Anglophones and Francophones throughout New Brunswick. 

Report - The impact of official bilingualism on the geographic mobility of New Brunswickers: Evidence from 2001 to 2016 (2019) (Black & White)
Report - The impact of official bilingualism on the geographic mobility of New Brunswickers: Evidence from 2001 to 2016 (2019) (Colour)

New Brunswick Population Snapshot

Paul Peters


What will the population of New Brunswick look like in the coming years? 

New Brunswick has one of Canada’s fastest aging populations and lowest levels of in-migration, along with declining fertility rates. A shrinking population presents a challenge to economic growth and has significant implications for other factors, such as the province’s healthcare system, tax base, and social support. Thus, population decline in New Brunswick has been a salient political concern for many years now. 

Researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) have been analyzing provincial population trends for a number of years. Earlier reports suggested the province’s population would continue to shift due to inter-provincial outmigration, with growth concentrated in cities through rural to urban migration. 

More recent reports using newly available 2016 Census data update the population statistics,  accounting for the fact that New Brunswick experienced an overall population decline from 2011 to 2016. In these reassessments of population forecasts for small areas in New Brunswick, results are more negative than those of the 2017 reports – possibly due to data reflecting the sluggish provincial economy following the 2008 recession. 

The most current population forecasts suggest net migration is the main driver of population growth; and while the cities of Moncton and Fredericton are predicted to see population increases, the remaining areas in New Brunswick will arguably see either population decline or stagnation. The labour force is likely to follow the same trends as the general population. 

The authors argue that these trends could reflect a cyclical population downturn that will eventually reverse itself with renewed population growth; or they could indicate a future trend of population decline. Ongoing research may be able to tell. 

Report - Small Area Population Forecasts for New Brunswick (2017)
Report - New Brunswick Population Snapshot (2017)
Report - Small-Area Population Forecasts for New Brunswick with 2016 Census Data: Cohort-Component Model Report (2018)
Report - Small-Area Population Forecasts for New Brunswick with 2016 Census Data: Simplified Model Report (2018)

Temporary Residents in New Brunswick and their Transition to Permanent Residency

Herb Emery, Ted McDonald and Andrew Balcom


How well does New Brunswick attract Temporary Residents? And how many become Permanent Residents? 

With a declining population and slow economic growth, New Brunswick is seeking to boost growth in both areas by increasing the number of immigrants settling in the province. Research from Statistics Canada suggests that Temporary Foreign Workers are less likely to settle in the Atlantic provinces than in the rest of Canada. However, this research does not examine provincial variations in the attraction of Temporary Residents and Foreign Workers and transition to Permanent Residency in the Atlantic region. Knowing the characteristics and transition rates of Temporary Residents would allow the New Brunswick government to better identify gaps and opportunities to improve immigration policies.

In this report, researchers from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) use data from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) database to describe the characteristics of Temporary Residents and Temporary Foreign Workers in New Brunswick as well as retention rates and the rate of transitions to Permanent Resident status.

Results show that from 2000 to 2013, the number of Temporary Residents in New Brunswick has been increasing at the same rate as that of Canada. However, if one considers the the population size of NB alongside the proportion of immigrants in New Brunswick, it becomes apparent that the number of Temporary Residents in New Brunswick is underrepresented, with New Brunswick seemingly holding less attraction for them.

Yet, while New Brunswick appears to be less attractive to Temporary Residents than the other Atlantic provinces it also has a higher rate of transition to Permanent Residency than the Canadian rate. Similarly, Permanent Residents who stay in New Brunswick for one year after transitioning show fairly persistent retention rates. These results suggest that the New Brunswick labour market may have the capacity to absorb more Permanent Residents because it does not receive a proportion of Temporary Residents equal to its proportion of the Atlantic population. 

Report - Temporary Residents in New Brunswick and Their Transition to Permanent Residency (2017)
Summary - Temporary Residents in New Brunswick and their Transition to Permanent Residency (2017)

The Economic Impacts of Migrating from New Brunswick to Alberta/Saskatchewan and Return to New Brunswick

Herb Emery, Ted McDonald and René Morissette


Are New Brunswickers who leave the province for work any better off if/when they return? 

For many years now, large numbers of young, working-age New Brunswickers have migrated to other provinces for work. While the most popular Canadian destinations for New Brunswickers in the past were Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, this has changed over the past 20 years, with New Brunswickers migrating more frequently to Alberta and Saskatchewan – likely due to growth and employment opportunities in the oil and gas industry. 

There is a general assumption that New Brunswickers who leave the province to work elsewhere are better off when they return. But does the evidence suggest this is true?  

To answer this question, researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) use Statistics Canada tax-filer data to compare the characteristics and earnings of New Brunswickers who migrate Alberta/Saskatchewan and then return (i.e., “Returners”) against those of 

  • NB workers who migrate and remain in AB/SK (“Permanent Migrants”) 
  • NB workers who remained in NB. (“Stayers”)  and
  •  NB workers who migrate to Alberta/Saskatchewan and then return ("returners")

Results show that Returners and Permanent Migrants experienced equally advantageous earnings gains from migrating to AB/SK. There are many possibilities why this is the case. It is possible that Returners are penalized by diminished opportunities. Perhaps they are less motivated to work for lower earnings. Maybe they accumulated enough savings to work fewer hours. 

These findings suggest that policies aiming to boost economic growth through increased GDP, immigration, and return migration in New Brunswick should focus on increasing labour demand, rather than marketable human capital. 

Summary - The Economic Impacts of Return Migration (2017)
Report - The Economic Impacts of Migrating from New Brunswick to Alberta/Saskatchewan and Return to New Brunswick (2017)

Using Administrative and Survey Data to Estimate Returns to Higher Education in Canada

Ted McDonald, Bethany Daigle, Pablo Miah


Post-secondary education is valuable – but how should we measure that value?

Education is commonly described as a valuable asset: It benefits the individuals who attain it, and it benefits society at large. Unsurprisingly, research almost exclusively finds that investment in post-secondary education produces positive returns. However, despite widespread agreement on this fact, there is no consensus on the best methods for reliably calculating these returns. 

In this report, researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) analyze the existing literature and available datasets to compile a list of recommendations to identify the most accurate and effective methods for calculating the returns to post-secondary education. 

In the short term, the authors recommend measuring the value of post-secondary education by analyzing the datasets linked through Statistics Canada’s Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (ELMLP): The Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS), the Registered Apprenticeship Information System (RAIS), and T1 Family File tax records. By using these data sets to group earnings cohorts according to observable characteristics and by using tax records to estimate individuals’ participation (or non-participation) in post-secondary education, researchers can create control groups against which to compare the earnings of groups with varying levels of education. 

In the long term, the authors believe the most accurate estimations of the return to post-secondary education in Canada can be obtained by expanding the information available through the ELMLP to include additional data from the Canadian Census, the Longitudinal Administrative Databank (LAD), the Longitudinal and International Study of Adults (LISA), the General Social Survey (GSS), the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult competencies (PIAAC), the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) and others. 

Report - Returns to Post Secondary Education (2019)

Comparisons of High School Equivalency and High School Diplomas in NB

Philip Leonard, Ted McDonald, Andy Balzer


Is getting a GED as “good” as getting a high school diploma? 

New Brunswickers who drop out of high school but later complete their high school education commonly receive a General Equivalency Diploma – otherwise known as a GED. Some may assume that having a GED or other equivalency degree is comparable to having a high school diploma. Meanwhile, others ask if having a GED is better than having no degree at all. To shed light on this issue, researchers at NB-IRDT look at the evidence surrounding labour market outcomes. 

This report uses data from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) from the 2016 General Social Survey to examine labour market outcomes – including employment and average income – for New Brunswickers possessing a high school equivalency diploma, a traditional high school diploma, or less than a high school education. New Brunswickers with levels of education beyond high school are not included in this comparison. 

Findings show that while employment rates and average incomes for individuals with an equivalency diploma are not as high as for those with a high school diploma, they are considerably higher than those of individuals who did not complete a high school education. 

At the time of the survey, 51% of individuals with an equivalency diploma were employed, versus 60% with a high school diploma and 31% without a high school education. Individuals with an equivalency diploma were earning approximately $31,742 a year, compared to $32,381 for those with a high school diploma and $19,893 for those without a high school education.

Previous studies have asked whether there is any advantage to getting a GED over not getting one at all. The results suggest the answer is “yes” – in the labour market, at least. 

Report - Comparisons of high school equivalency and high school diplomas in NB (2019)

Characteristics of Apprenticeship Programs in the Atlantic Provinces

Herb Emery, Ted McDonald, Andrew Balcom


What do we know about Atlantic Apprentice Programs?

Over the past 20 years, Canadian apprenticeship programs have seen a 200% increase in registrations – partly due to the need for skilled tradespeople to meet labour shortages as Canada’s aging workforce reaches retirement and partly due to higher wages and more opportunities in the resource sector. 

To better understand the characteristics, mobility and earnings of individuals registered in Atlantic Canadian apprenticeship programs, researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) examine linked data from the Registered Apprenticeship Information System, T1 tax files, and T4 statements of earnings and compare results across program registrants in each Atlantic province. 

The authors consider three dimensions of apprenticeship: 

  • characteristics of participants (demographics, etc.)
  • mobility of apprentices (during and after apprenticeship)
  • earnings of participants

Findings show that over 90% of apprentices are male, and electrician is the most common field of study. 
About 95% of those studying in the Atlantic provinces are also residents; but after program completion, about 15% of those residents are employed in another province (typically Alberta). 
Program completers earn approximately $20,000 more per year than program discontinuers, regardless of where they worked. However, NB completers who work in AB earn significantly more in the first few years than those who work in the Atlantic provinces. 

Summary - Characteristics of Apprenticeship Programs in the Atlantic Provinces (2017)
Report - Apprenticeship Programs in the Atlantic Provinces: Program Characteristics, Apprentice Mobility and Earnings (2017)

Will a higher minimum wage decrease poverty in NB

Emily Boyle, Bethany Daigle, Sarah McRae


What is the best way to reduce poverty in New Brunswick? 

In recent years, there have been increasing public debates across Canada about the need to implement new policy levers to tackle the problem of poverty. These have largely taken the form of advocacy for accelerated minimum wage increases – specifically to $15 an hour. With the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia raising (or promising to raise) the minimum wage to $15/hour in 2018, 2019, and 2021, respectively, other Canadian provinces have debated whether they should follow suit.

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, a media movement called “Fight for 15 Fredericton” is emulating the original “Fight for 15” initiated by New York City fast-food workers in 2012 – and is hoping to meet with the same success. However, it is important to gather evidence predicting the impact such an increase in minimum wage would have for New Brunswick. Would an increase similar to those in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia produce positive or negative results for the region? What outcomes would this kind of increase have on the rate and depth of poverty in New Brunswick? And would a different policy prove more effective?

This report, produced by the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training, reviews the evidence surrounding minimum wage increases, living wage policies, taxes and transfers, and Universal Guaranteed Basic Income policies to assess how these instruments might impact poverty levels in New Brunswick. The authors find that a higher minimum wage is unlikely to significantly reduce poverty, whereas an income-based prorated Universal Guaranteed Basic Income might be the most far-reaching effective poverty reduction strategy – especially when implemented alongside current tax and transfer policies.

Report - Will a Higher Minimum Wage Decrease Poverty in New Brunswick? A Review of the Evidence on Minimum Wages and Other Policy Alternatives (2019)

Have real wages stagnated in New Brunswick over the past 20 years?

Patrick Coe, J.C. Herbert Emery, Derek Mikola


Recently, there have been growing concerns over the state of wages in New Brunswick. After all, the province has seen slow overall economic growth, and the labour market has undergone technological changes in production that could potentially impact wages through reduced labour demands. Is it possible these or other factors have slowed down wage growth in the province? 

According to researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT), wages can serve as an indicator of quality of life, with wage stagnation indicating a stagnant quality of life, as well as a lack of growth in labour productivity.

To ascertain the status of real wages in New Brunswick, this report uses data from the Statistics Canada CANSIM database and focuses on average and median real hourly wages and real weekly earnings, categorized by industry. It compares the evolution of weekly and hourly earnings in the province to estimate the rate of wage growth in New Brunswick, which it also compares to wage growth in Ontario and Canada overall. The results show that wage growth in New Brunswick has followed a trend similar to that of Ontario and Canada; however, there is a relatively constant wage gap between average New Brunswick wages and average Ontario and Canadian wages – of approximately $5 per hour. 

Findings show that long-term wage growth in New Brunswick is associated with national productivity growth, rather than provincial growth. This means that changes to the labour market are more visible in changes in employment, rather than wage rates. A decrease in labour demand will result in fewer employed workers, rather than slower wage growth. This suggests that policies aiming to stimulate the New Brunswick economy should target growing labour demand, rather than pushing for isolated increases in labour supply. 

Report - Wage Growth in New Brunswick (2019)

True cost of living measures for 10 provinces

Herb Emery and Xiaolin Guo


What is the “True Cost of Living” in Canada?

In Canada, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the official measure of the cost of living used by government and other organizations to make policy decisions, such as how to index salaries, public pension payments, and minimum wages. If the CPI does not accurately represent the cost of living, taxpayers could end up paying more than intended, and some households could receive less in the form of transfers and wages. It is therefore important that the “true cost of living” is measured accurately.

Using 1997-2015 data from the Survey of Household Spending, researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) construct “true cost of living” measures for subgroups of the Canadian population based on consumers’ behaviour while estimating biases in the official CPI.

Results show that provincial CPI measurements significantly vary from the true cost of living – particularly after the 2008-2009 recession. While the CPI suggests no major shocks to the economy, this report suggests a sharp increase in the cost of living and a decrease in real incomes for all Canadian households – an economic shock that persisted beyond 2012, particularly for females and households with children. For instance, structural changes in the location and slope of Engel Curves after 2009 also appear to coincide with various economic shocks. For instance, gasoline prices increased abruptly in 2010, and energy and food prices have continued to rise. Likewise, after 2009, consumers faced tighter access to consumer credit, which was accompanied by an increase in consumers paying down debt during a time of rapid growth in commodity prices. These findings suggest that households were not buffering against price shocks following the 2008-2009 recession.

Report - True Cost of Living Measures for 10 Provinces: Using an Engel Curve Approach (2019)

Does the regionalization of health services lead to variations in care?

Adrian Levy, James Ted McDonald, Juergen Krause


Regionalizing, or centralizing, health services involves the concentration of health care resources at fewer locations with the aim of reducing wait times, increasing quality of care, and lowering service costs. However, there is the possibility that regionalization can result in geographical barriers to care, as some individuals may need to travel further for services or may need to rely on limited local treatment options.

Even though each Maritime province operates under slightly different health care models, they have some things in common. Each province offers some regionalized services, and each province offers non-regionalized orthopaedic surgeries, which are accessible at many different hospitals. 

In this report, researchers from the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) and the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) examine variations in surgery rates and surgery types in the Maritime provinces, focusing specifically on three kinds of surgery:

  • coronary artery bypass grafts (CABGs) (regionalized service)
  • hip replacements (not regionalized)
  • knee replacements (not regionalized)

Using data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database, the authors estimate the types and rates of surgery for adults who had a CABG or a hip or knee replacement surgery between 2001 and 2013, as well as changes in those rates over time.

Study results show that rates of CABGs remained stable over time, while rates of orthopaedic surgery increased. Rates of cardiac surgery were higher for men, whereas rates of orthopaedic surgery were higher for women. 
Findings also show regional variations in surgical rates, with CABG showing the least, variation and knee replacements the highest amount of variation. This suggests that some patients may be choosing to undergo orthopaedic surgeries out of province.

Report - Geographic variation in coronary artery bypass surgery and hip and knee replacement surgeries in the Maritime Provinces (2016)

Tobacco Use and Food Insecurity in New Brunswick

Herb Emery, Valerie Tarasuk, Xiaolin Guo, Bethany Daigle, Daniel Dutton, Philip Leonard, Ted McDonald


Is smoking tobacco associated with higher rates of food insecurity?

Food insecurity refers to a range of experiences – from concerns about running out of food before having enough money to buy more to not eating for a whole day due to a lack of food and money for food. Food insecurity is most prevalent in households with lower incomes, and food insecure families can find themselves in difficult situations in which they have to decide whether to “heat or eat.” In this report, researchers from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT), the University of New Brunswick, and the University of Toronto examine the relationship between smoking and food insecurity to see if families are also faced with the decision to either “smoke or eat.”

Using 2007-2017 data from the Canadian Community Health Survey this report asks whether
  • smoking raises the risk of being food insecure, or
  • smoking has no cause effect on food insecurity due to shared characteristics between smokers and food insecure households.

The results show that households with smokers are more likely to be food insecure, though, food insecurity has a stronger relationship  with poor health and well-being than tobacco use.

Apart from the impact of smoking on food insecurity, this report also finds that individuals most likely to be food insecure are families with younger respondents, females, individuals with low levels of education, renters, urban dwellers, Aboriginals, and recent immigrants.

The authors recommend a focus on implementing programs such as counselling, rather than higher taxation on cigarettes, as strategies to decrease tobacco use, as the latter could reduce the purchasing power of families’ incomes, including income available for food.

Report - Tobacco Use and Food Insecurity in New Brunswick (2019) (Black and White)
Report - Tobacco Use and Food Insecurity in New Brunswick (2019) (Colour)
Rapport - Tabagisme et insécurité alimentaire au Nouveau-Brunswick (2019)