Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South, is urging the government to act on its commitment to assist local communities to establish and implement regional economic development plans.

“While our major cities are growing, their success does not offer solutions to our rural communities and towns, beyond drawing their young people away. In fact, many rural communities and small towns have double the unemployment rates of our cities, hovering around 15%,” said Coon. “They need to have the authority and provincial support to develop local economic strategies that build on the strengths and assets unique to their regions. You would think that’s why the Regional Development Corporation was established, but it’s clearly failing to achieve its mandate,” said Coon.

Premier Gallant’s economic growth plan launched last September promised to work with communities to develop their own regional economic development strategies. In his election platform, Premier Gallant had committed to establishing locally-led economic development agencies as well.

The Regional Development Corporation (RDC) has a legislated mandate to prepare regional development plans and to coordinate and guide regional development, though it has never done so.

RDC will appear before the Crown Corporations Committee on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 at 2:00pm to have its activities from 2012 to 2015 scrutinized by MLAs to assess the effectiveness of its spending.

“RDC has spent $267 million in public funds to support regional development over the past three years, but has it actually helped develop our rural and small town economies?” asked Coon. “I am eager to find out whether this expenditure of more than a quarter billion dollars met the regional development goals of the RDC.”