Is a Race to the Economic Bottom Inevitable?
The headline in the Monday November 21 Chronicle Herald was “Grim future for N.S.: author”. The author is Richard Saillant and his book is A Tale of Two Countries. The article starts with his belief that “Nova Scotia faces a grim future of crumbling healthcare and an aging population as its economy grinds to a halt”. It ends with him saying, “There’s not much that can meaningfully alter this.”
So it was a relief that Tuesday’s Chronicle Herald featured Halifax Partnership CEO, Ron Hanlon, under a headline about “working toward a shared vision”. This aligns with the Now! NS Initiative, and Hanlon identifies some positive changes since the launch last November of the Game Changers program.
For the first time in 5 years, there has been a decrease in net youth outmigration from 1500 in 2014-2015 to 1000 in 2016. “That’s 500 more talented, educated young people ready to start or grow their careers in Nova Scotia.”
This is positive news – the wins that make it possible to hold a broadly shared vision.The vision of Halifax’s Economic Growth Plan for 2016-2021 is to grow Halifax’s population to 550,000 (1.7% per year) and GDP to $30 billion (2.9% per year). A key goal supporting that vision is alignment of effort through vertical and horizontal collaboration. This requires a shared language to guide decisions and actions between government levels and across communities and companies.
Everyone needs to be on the same page as to how their actions influence the vision.This is the direction we need to be thinking in – otherwise the scenario presented by Mr. Saillant becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of a race to the bottom. While the challenge will be building that shared language around the vision, there ARE ways to make this happen. We CAN do this. We have to.