Nova Scotia has been handed a roadmap for its future. It’s shaping up to be a tough haul.
That’s the message from an economic development report commissioned for the province, which released some recommendations Wednesday. The warnings of consequences without change are dire: we could interpret that as a gloomy outlook, but preferably it will work as a rally cry.
In fact, the report entitled “Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action” lays out a number of goals and strategies, some that will require changes in the way we do things and in our attitudes.
At any rate, the grim realism presented by the five-member panel, led by Acadia University president Ray Ivany, will serve better than the sugar-coating we sometimes get from the political realm, as governments will have us believe things are on the upswing.
The population crunch is front and centre, no surprise. Numbers in this province have been stagnant with the potential to decline in coming decades without changes. Add to that higher proportion of retirees and seniors as younger people fly the coup for work elsewhere and we have less enterprise, less commerce and a flat-lined tax base.
The panel says a pressing goal is to triple the number of immigrants admitted annually, a number currently at about 2,300. Premier Stephen McNeil acknowledges that problem and says his government will be making an announcement on immigration soon. We expect that will involve arrangements with the federal government on the technicalities, such as programs to help new citizens settle.
A disturbing trend described by the panel was what it described as a reluctance to celebrate local success. Add to that, Ivany said, a tendency to expect government to solve our problems. That suggests a need for a real attitude shakeup.
At the same time government does have a central role, that is, an emphasis on research and development: getting a line on industries with growth potential rather than flogging those that are tired out.