‘We have to become a can-do province’
TRURO – A frank discussion on the condition of Nova Scotia’s economic state and how to improve it took place in Truro this week.
From left, Don Hay, Dave Corkum, Bernie Miller and Dianne Kelderman were panelists who discussed the recently released Ivany Report, which takes a closer look at the status of Nova Scotia’s economy. The panel discussed their opinions and suggestions based on the report and sought feedback from about 30 people in the audience at the Nova Scotia Community College in Truro on Tuesday. Monique Chiasson – Truro Daily News
The Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia held its annual general meeting at the Nova Scotia Community College, Truro Campus, and part of the gathering was a panel discussion to discuss the recently released provincial report on Nova Scotia’s economy, known as the Ivany Report.
Dianne Kelderman, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, and event moderator, said there are a few key points to take out of the report.
“We need to attract and retain immigrants,” said Kelderman to a group of about 30 people in the audience.
Also, she said, trade products and focusing on the world industry, such as farming, must be priorities in Nova Scotia. And it’s not up to the government alone to make positive changes, Kelderman said.
“Everyone of us has a responsibility as passionate Nova Scotians and members” of the community to get involved in initiatives or presenting ideas on how to improve the economy.
Dan Hay, past president of the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce, was one of the panelists. Hay said “business needs to be more present in
the government … the government needs to get out of the way; there’s too much red tape.”
Starting more businesses, expanding tourism initiatives, developing an economic strategy specifically for Colchester County, having a more positive attitude towards business, and increasing international immigration opportunities are all ways to address population and economic issues in the province, Hay said.
“Increasing immigration is not always popular, but it’s (needed) … we need to do a better job” of recognizing immigrants and “making them want to stay.”
Reforming municipal governance is needed as well, suggested Hay.
“Municipalities need to tighten operations and share services.”
Bernie Miller, deputy minister of the province’s office of policy and priorities, added his thoughts as a panelist.
“We have to become a can-do province…,” specifically regarding population and economy, Miller said, adding “government can’t do it alone” and a collective approach with communities and businesses is required.
Other focuses he’s encouraged to see considered are a look into government efficiency, more emphasis on entrepreunership and training, and tidal energy, to name a few.
Dave Corkum, Kentville’s mayor and president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, was the other panelist. Corkum also believes reform and structural changes on the municipal level are required.
“It will not save much money in the short term by amalgamating (but) a reduction of elected officials is not sufficient. There needs to be change in the
structure (of municipal politics) and officials need to be accessible,” said Corkum.
“Municipalities need to offer services at lower costs, share services … streamline and reduce duplication,” he said.
Truro’s Kenley MacNeill was in the audience. He told the Truro Daily News the panel discussion was “excellent” for a few reasons.
“It’s putting positive energy out there as well as offering ideas,” MacNeill said.
He offered his own suggestion for how to improve the province’s population and economic woes.
“Having a vision is not the problem. It’s that often we have different ways to fulfill that vision,” MacNeill said. “It’s very important to talk about flexibility with policies. What can we do as government and community to welcome people and have tolerance of people?” he asked, specifically regarding the issue of immigration.