N.S. prepares $2.5M campaign aimed at attracting new residents

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Jill Balser is Nova Scotia's minister of labour, skills and immigration. (CBC - image credit)
Jill Balser is Nova Scotia's minister of labour, skills and immigration. (CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government is taking the first steps toward a goal of doubling the province's population by 2060.

The Labour, Skills and Immigration Department announced plans this week for a $2.5-million marketing program aimed at provincial immigration and migration.

The department will work with officials at the Communities, Culture, Heritage and Tourism Department to develop the promotional plan.

Labour, Skills and Immigration Department Minister Jill Balser said there is an opportunity to promote the province and its way of life. Details on the campaign, including who will design it, are still in the works.

"This campaign is just the start to be able to reach that ambitious goal," said Balser.

A focus on immigration

Prior to being rolled in with Communities, Culture and Heritage, Tourism Nova Scotia launched a promotion aimed at attracting people to the province who could work from anywhere.

The former Liberal government paused that program, in part because of the challenges that existed in the housing market, with spiking sales prices, rents and shrinking availability.

A spokesperson for the Labour Department said the difference between that program and the one launched by the new government is that the new program will have a much broader reach in an attempt to attract people to the province for multiple reasons. Those include creating new businesses and jobs, filling labour gaps, and study.

Balser said this program will be about attracting people from outside Canada as much as it will be about encouraging Canadians with ties to Nova Scotia to move back home.

"We have new immigrants coming to this province. We also have international students studying here, and from conversations that I have had with them, they want to make Nova Scotia their home and we want to make that happen for them."

Housing must be part of conversation

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said immigration is necessary for the province, but in order to maximize that potential the government must also address the shortage of affordable housing and the need for protection of renters through an extension of rent control.

"We know that for many people moving to Nova Scotia, the attractiveness of our province has to do with the affordability of life, that with the same income they're able to afford things that they might not have been able to afford in a city in southern Ontario, for example," he said.

"But if the housing crisis is not addressed, that is not going to be true for long. In fact, there's lots of evidence that it's nowhere near as true now as it was even six months or a year ago."

Balser said it would take a collaborative effort among the various levels of government and with service providers to address the lack of housing stock and affordability issues.

While that work is happening, however, the government also needs to focus on finding ways to encourage more people to consider making Nova Scotia their home, she said.

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