HALIFAX: Faced with economic growth that ranks dead last in Canada over the past two decades, Nova Scotia is aiming the bulk of the money it will spend on a new job creation strategy at improving productivity, fostering innovation and boosting international trade.
The three-year, $200-million strategy announced by Premier Darrell Dexter modifies dozens of existing programs and includes 20 new initiatives, although many of the details are yet to be announced.
“As the economy went global, competition intensified, technology took off and Nova Scotia didn’t keep up,” Dexter said in a statement. “We can do better.”
JobsHere, an existing provincial initiative to grow Nova Scotia’s economy, will see about $60 million spent on skills development. The remaining $140 million will be spent on projects that improve productivity, innovation and international trade.
Dexter said government loans, loan guarantees and other assistance programs for business will be evaluated on a company’s competitiveness.
The government plans to establish several funds to boost venture capital and to help firms find international markets. It is also promising to review the equity tax credit in 2012 to offer tax breaks to investors who support Nova Scotia companies.
As well, the province will recognize more foreign credentials to boost the potential pool of skilled workers. There is a promise to increase the number of immigrants who come to Nova Scotia, with 7,200 set as the target by 2020.
Business groups and the province’s opposition parties said the strategy fails to address taxation, which would make the province more competitive.
“This report doesn’t even mention taxation,” said Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie. “It ignores the needs of small business … who say high taxes and excess regulation are their number one impediment to growth.”
Baillie said the plan follows the two percentage point hike to the HST, an increase he maintains has hurt the province’s competitiveness and something he has promised to scrap if he becomes premier.