July 17, 2017

Written by: Ian Munro, Chief Economist, Halifax Partnership

Recently, the Partnership published the2017 Halifax Index. The Index is an annual overview of the state of Nova Scotia’s capital city, and a report card on our progress toward the goals in Halifax’s Economic Growth Plan 2016-21. Now one year into the Growth Plan, this is our first opportunity to assess whether we are indeed growing as planned.

Just over one year ago, Halifax Council adopted the new Growth Plan for Halifax. The top-level vision focuses on growing the population and the economy, depicting Halifax in the year 2031 with a population of 550,000 and a GDP of $30 billion. The plan contains a list of metrics that help us assess our progress. 

Beneath these figures are interim goals for population and GDP in 2021 (470,000 and $22.5 billion, respectively) and a long set of detailed indicators. The checklist below, taken from the Index, offers an early look at our progress in reaching these indicators.

As with any report card, there are some very encouraging results and some that highlight a need for further attention:

  • There were very positive developments for populations growth, youth retention, and immigration.
  • GDP growth has been positive and forecasts continue to show growth, but not enough to put us on trend to hit the 2021 target. 
  • Income growth did not change dramatically; the number of jobs, commercial property tax base, and business opinion of the business climate are moving in the right direction.
  • The share of full-time work had a recent, slight dip.
  • Commercial vacancy has been rising, but many forecasts predict it is about to level off.
  • Labour force is showing positive growth, but at this point not enough to reach the 2021 target, reflecting our aging population and the movement of the Baby Boomer generation into retirement. 

Any parent knows that a straight-A report card is rare. We acknowledge the Bs and Cs as areas where more work may be needed and recognize that a less-than-perfect mark in the first year does not preclude success in the long term. 

As we mark Canada’s 150th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, 2017 is an important year to reflect on our history, take pride in what our city has become, and stride confidently and purposefully towards an even brighter future.   

To book an in-depth 2017 Halifax Index presentation for your team or association, please email Robyn Squires at



Halifax Economic Growth Plan 2016-21 Checklist

 Year 1 Key Indicators
All indicators are measured for the Halifax Census Metropolitan Area unless indicated otherwise 
Goal  Measurement Baseline 2016 Progress Report
Promote & Maximize Growth Grow Halifax's GDP to $22.5 Billion  $18,300 million $18,579 million Progressing
- Increase average annual income growth 1.2% 1.5% Unchanged
- Increase the total number of jobs  224,100  226,000 Improving
- Increase the share of full-time work  83% 82% Worsening
- Increase the share of businesses that consider Halifax an above-average place to do business 15.0% 23.0% Improving
- Reduce commercial vacancy rates in the downtown 14.3% 15.1% Worsening
- Increase the commercial property tax base $7.8 billion $8.2 billion Improving
Attract & Retain Talent Grow Halifax's Labour Force to 271,000 239,100 240,700 Progressing
- Increase Halifax's overall population growth 1.0% 2.0% Improving
- Increase net interprovincial migration of youth ages 20-29 to Nova Scotia -1,300 -1,001 Improving
- Grow the international student body... 5,832 6,045 Improving
- ...and the gross share that transition into permanent residency 3.4% 5.8% Improving
- Increase net international immigration to Halifax 2,085 6,150 Improving
Make Halifax a Better Place to Live & Work Grow Halifax's Population to 470,000 417,847 425,871 On Track
- Increase the share of Nova Scotians who have a strong or somewhat strong sense of belonging to their community 73.8% 76.4% Improving
- Raise the mean score on quality of life indicators 7.7 7.2 Worsening
     Good place to raise a family 7.7 7.8 Unchanged
     Outdoor recreational facilities 7.3 6.8 Worsening
     Indoor recreational facilities 7.2 6.8 Worsening
     Housing affordability 6.1 5.7 Worsening
     Arts and cultural events 7.4 6.8 Worsening
     City is easy to get around 6.6 5.9 Worsening
     % who feel mostly safe 61.0% 80.0% Improving
- Increase library programming attendance... 209,772 213,576 Unchanged
- ...and in-person visits 3,595,902 3,613,986 Unchanged
For the full checklist, see page 8 in the 2017 Halifax Index.