What’s the population retention situation in Nova Scotia?

July 6, 2015

The Now or Never Report released by the One Nova Scotia Coalition last year offered a number of recommendations for how to go about boosting industry in Nova Scotia and bolstering the country's annual gross domestic product. The publication, also known as the Ivany Report, in a nod to commission chairman and Acadia University president Ray Ivany, underscored the importance of attracting immigrants and retaining native Nova Scotian youths, as well as young people who hail from other parts of Canada and come to the province to study. It's been almost a year and a half since the release of the report, and the latest edition of the Halifax Partnership's Halifax Index took a look at Nova Scotia's progress so far.

"Without immigrants, Halifax's population would have
fallen in 2014."

Immigration

Thanks to immigration, Halifax's population experienced a modest rise of 1.1 per cent last year, the Partnership found. In fact, if it weren't for immigrants – both from other countries and Canadian provinces – the Nova Scotian capital would have been home to fewer individuals in 2014 than it was the previous year. Back in March, Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab announced that the 2,661 immigrants who came to Nova Scotia last year marked a 10-year high, while the 717 individuals who secured permanent residency through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program set a new record.

"Nova Scotia is a welcoming community and we want to ensure our province is seen by immigrants as an excellent choice," said Diab. "On our part, government is working to make immigration to Nova Scotia more successful."

Efforts to make the province seem more desirable to immigrants include the Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry initiative, which streamlines the immigration process for individuals who can help meet the needs of the labour market, and the Provincial Nominee Program, which was overhauled with the intention of making it easier for international students to stay after graduation.

Retention

Stopping the exodus of young, native Nova Scotians and individuals from further afield who came here to study has been another focus. Citing figures from Statistics Canada, the report noted that unemployed young people between the ages of 15 and 24 composed approximately one-third (34 per cent) of all unemployed individuals in Halifax – more than in Quebec City, Regina, St. John's and Victoria. Moreover, Halifax had a 13 per cent youth unemployment rate in 2014.

In a bid to turn the situation around, the government introduced a two-year wage subsidy for employers that hire recent graduates - both Nova Scotia-born professionals and people from other provinces and countries. Moreover, there are a variety of programs created by educational institutions that encourage students and graduates to do business in Halifax and elsewhere in the province – and even set up companies of their own.

Halifax business news brought to you by the Halifax Partnership, Halifax's
economic development organization.