The Province of Nova Scotia is at a crossroads – facing a future of opportunity and challenge.
Today, new investment is flowing through our province. Labour and business are partnering to restructure a sustainable forest industry. Wind, tidal and regional hydro-electricity production; innovations in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture; and the re-vitalization of our tourism industry all promise a brighter future for our rural regions. The 30 year shipbuilding contracts will accelerate the emergence of Halifax as a dynamic, mid-sized city. In turn, that growth will attract more investment and create new opportunities for business growth and employment throughout the province.
At the same time, we face real challenges. Our population growth has slowed and our workforce is aging. Lack of good jobs and career prospects has meant that too many young people and skilled workers have left our province to seek better opportunities. Too few immigrants have been coming here from other provinces and from around the world.
Local businesses are also challenged to make needed investments in research and product innovation, in up-skilling workers, in linking to global supply chains and in accessing emerging markets.
In order to take advantage of the opportunities before us, we need to improve trust and communication amongst public, private, labour and community sector leaders. Nova Scotians at a grassroots level need to become engaged in a discussion about the options before us.
The Government of Nova Scotia is setting in motion a broad-based process of public engagement and shared reflection on our economic future. The purpose is to achieve a deeper shared understanding and consensus among Nova Scotians in all regions, and across all economic sectors, on the path forward.
In the context of these challenges and opportunities, Premier Darrell Dexter is commissioning a small group of eminent Nova Scotians to lead a broad-based public discussion:
The Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy will carry out its work over a period of 18 months beginning in early 2013. There will of necessity be an election during this period.
Once launched the Commission will take direction, be accountable and ultimately report to the Premier’s Council on the Economy: a group of business, labour and community leaders who are non-partisan and well-placed to function independently of the government in power.
Secretariat duties for the Commission will be carried out by the Perennia Innovation Centre in Truro, under the leadership of Jo Ann Fewer.