Corner Brook’s double demographic whammy – Newfoundland & Labrador

Community leaders in Corner Brook have some strategies to adjust to a population that is shrinking and showing its age. 

The City of Corner Brook is getting older and smaller, according to Memorial University‘s Harris Centre Population Project, which released a report that lays out a grim future for Newfoundland and Labrador’s population. 

For Corner Brook, the projection is a slide of 17 per cent fewer people by 2036, and the average age will be 50.

“I’m not surprised by it,” said Mayor Charles Pender.

“But I think it’s good to have a reputable organization doing this study, putting the numbers together and bringing government’s attention to the issue and get a collaborative approach with how to deal with this in the future.”

Fewer schools = fewer jobs

Corner Brook has an older population with many retired residents. The west coast city has one high school and one junior high; two elementary schools just joined to make one. 

The Harris study believes Corner Brook will have 17 per cent fewer people by 2036 and the average age will be 50. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Corner Brook Regional High had fewer than 200 graduates in June 2017. Smaller schools means fewer students, which may lead to fewer jobs for teachers.

The faculty of education program — that offers students an education degree in St. John’s, Corner Brook and parts of Labrador — is responsible to not produce too many teachers.

“We actually reduced our seats by about 200 students a year about five years ago, for those wondering about that,” said Kirk Anderson, dean of the faculty of education at Memorial University. 

“There are about 1,000 less people in the streets looking for work.” 

Adjust to age

There are about 384 students in the education program this year. The number accepted is based on the number of teachers that retired and the 20-30 per cent that will go into a different career. 

“We reduced the cohorts in primary/elementary more than we did intermediate/secondary math and science. We still need more of that kind of teacher,” said Anderson.

Kirk Anderson is the dean of the faculty of education at Memorial University. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Adjustments to an aging population are happening every year.

But Pender wants solutions to the aging population, not just adjustments.

“One of the big issues is lack of jobs. You have to not only have jobs, but good meaningful jobs. People today are very mobile and if they can’t find a good job…

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