Poverty, economic development among areas CBRM needs to address: report

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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Cape Breton University president David Wheeler, from left, David Alderson, program development scientist at CBU, and Dr. Mary Doyle of the Cape Breton District Health Authority discuss a report on the current state of health of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — If residents of the province's second-largest municipality want a secure, stable economic future, they should stop taking things for granted and immediately attack root problems such as poverty and economic development.

Such a caution came in a 40-page report released Tuesday that measured the vital signs of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The report was prepared by the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia and was one of three such reports issued Tuesday. The other two dealt with Wolfville and Lunenburg County.

"This report comes at an important time in CBRM's history because CBRM is just coming off 10 years of a huge economic stimulus in the form of two separate remediation projects, which has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the community," said Allison Kouzovnikov, the foundation's executive director.

However, she said, with no such major projects on the horizon, residents need to take action now to address the drain of the region's young people, along with other issues that are hindering the area's ability to support itself.

The report examined a host of topics, from environment to health to arts and culture, and gives snapshot of the area's current state of affairs.

Among its findings, the report stated that between 2001 and 2011, the region lost 8,507 in population, which equates to having the population of New Waterford move out of Cape Breton. Also, during the same period, the population of people ages 12 to 17 fell by 5,045, which is comparable to having all the seats in Centre 200 filled with young people and moving them off the island.

Life expectancy in the municipal is about two years shorter than the provincial average and three years less the national average. CBRM residents are generally expected to have a life expectancy of 78.2 years. One in three residents is considered obese, while smoking rates continue to exceed both the provincial and national averages.

When it comes to poverty, the region is tagged with a rate of 20.8 per cent in 2010, which is nearly 20 per cent higher than the provincial average, and nearly 40 per cent higher than the national average. The child poverty rate for children under 18 was 29.3 per cent in 2010, which is 40 per cent higher than the provincial average, and 69 per cent higher than the national average.

For seniors (65 and over) in CBRM, the poverty rate is 20 per cent compared to 18 per cent for the province and 48 per cent nationally.

Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking described the report as a reality check, which was a comment echoed by many who attended the report's release during an event at Cape Breton University.

Adrian White, executive director of the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce, also attended the event and agreed with Eyking's assessment.

"There is a lot of digest in the report and there are lots of concerns. It is certainly an eye-opener for us in the business community," he said.

"There is a very real sense of urgency here."

Representatives from CBRM council were not able to attend the report's release as they were meeting Tuesday in committee-of-the-whole and later in the day held public meeting on the mayor's task force report on the future structure of the regional government. Council members have been supplied with a copy of the report.

The report's release was accompanied by a panel discussions featuring Dr. Mary Doyle of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, David Wheeler, CBU president, and David Alderson, program development scientist at CBU.

All agreed there needs to be attack on poverty, and its associated problems, along with developing a community economic development model that focuses on the spirit of entrepreneurs.

"The CBRM is not alone in its challenges. There is no healthy and vibrant Nova Scotia without a healthy and vibrant Cape Breton," said Robert Orr, the foundation's vice-chair.

"Everyone has a role to play to help improve our shared quality of life and future," he said.

Other findings included that CBRM now has the oldest median age at 47.5 years compared to seven comparable urban centres in Atlantic Canada. The region also scored lowest on the total crime severity index compared to other Atlantic Canadian cities, including Saint John, Charlottetown, St. John's, Moncton, Fredericton and Halifax.

At the same time, the CBRM recorded the second-highest total youth crime rate in 2012 with 4,276 youths charged with a Criminal Code offence per 100,000.

Out of the same comparable cities, the CBRM had the fourth-highest violent crime rate among youth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organizations: Cape Breton University, Community Foundation of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Wolfville, Lunenburg County New Waterford Nova Scotia

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Get Real
    October 01, 2013 - 18:23

    I guess Slow Down has accepted the inevitability of CB dying a slow death. Last one over the Causeway, please turn out the lights. Not! It's that kind of attitude that defeats us before we start. BTW, how much did this study cost? Just to tell us what we already knew. Simply put, we have three basic sets of resources: coal (Donkin), 3-4 months of easy and pleasant access to some of the greatest scenery on the planet and our own inate brain power. Some of the best work to date on defining and beginning to source some good development ideas has come from the CB Partnership. Its membership is largely business driven which gives them an economic stake in success - as opposed to some windbag profs who will get paid either way; for the latter crew studies of failure are probably more lucrative than participating in progress. So, Keith MacDonald, go for it and show us the way!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Slow down
    October 01, 2013 - 17:14

    Before you reinvent or try to attract business complete the process of wind down from the closure of sunset industries and the economic downturn. The tax base is not there to support the large welfare state in place, and further out migration is needed. Also there is inadequate monetary funding in place to support the CBRM expanse of roads and the infrastructure to support the near vacant sprawl. Shrinkage is needed geographically. Think small, look at churches and classrooms if you have doubts, you cannot afford to continue as a little metropolis when you are merely a feeder for rural areas and light tourism.

  • move to work
    October 01, 2013 - 15:23

    Subsidize moving expenses for those leaving the Island. Put unemployed and welfare recipients on demolition and clean-up crews for derelict and abandoned properties. Everyone has a role to play.

  • Stating The OBVIOUS
    October 01, 2013 - 15:22

    Simply another photo op for the folks at CBU. A ten year old could have pointed out the obvious presented in this glorified term paper. Why the president of CBU was there beats me as he might be the one of the few who doesn't know the problems we face as he hasn't been here long enough. The post should start to not attend these obvious photo ops or at least start charging them for you coverage.

  • Greenleaf
    October 01, 2013 - 15:09

    Rankin and Morgan should have let Atlantic Gateway Shipping Terminals Ltd. Buy the Greenfield site. Then there would be some good jobs.

  • Paul
    October 01, 2013 - 13:34

    Wow....thank god for these smart people getting paid big bucks to let us know that people are leaving the island. Tell us something we didn't know and why not ask the citizen's past and present what needs to be done to improve the standard of living for CB. Wait that would make sense and wouldn't provide jobs and money for people on the panel....

  • What are the solutions?
    October 01, 2013 - 13:13

    Most people know what the problems are here in Cape Breton. They should also add, drug addiction, young girls leaving school to have children which must be supported by tax payers. Lack of motivation and laziness. People with strong motivation and a good education have left which hurts our economy. Where are the solutions to such massive problems? Most people see no solution and depart for greener pastures. Who can blame them. We need work not studies, and more talk. A large government department, like health, would bring home some of our educated people. If the NDP is re-elected we will soon be one big Park and we will all have to leave.

  • HORSEFACE
    October 01, 2013 - 12:54

    I am so tired of all these people who obvously live off government (LIKE WHEN YOU WORK AT A UNIVERSITY) saying entrepreneurs are some how going to save us. Most people are supported directly or indirectly by GOVERNMENT just like you folks. When government stops funding people and things we get unemployment and poverty. Please stop repeating the already debunked neoconservative nonsense.

    • Really?
      October 01, 2013 - 21:18

      How is entrepreneurship neoconservative nonsense? There's a significant place for entrepreneurs in all social democracies. I don't believe anyone was suggesting taking away the social welfare net only that the gov't itself cannot bring about a higher standard of living for this many people living in poverty. Towns and cities with substantial business/private sectors also have better quality of live for its citizens. The gov't cannot do it all and it was never meant to.

  • Spade a spade
    October 01, 2013 - 12:51

    SO...we're old, slow, fat stupid smokers? That's great.