N.S. fac­ing labour short­age that will af­fect tax rev­enues

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS/WEATHER -

GREEN­WICH, N.S. (CP) — Nova Sco­tia is racing to­ward a se­vere labour short­age that will af­fect ev­ery­thing from tax rev­enues to health care, a fo­rum on pop­u­la­tion was told Tues­day.

“ We will run out of an avail­able labour force in less than seven years,” Jim McNiven, a se­nior pol­icy re­search ad­viser and pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Dal­housie Uni­ver­sity, told about 100 del­e­gates.

“It’s not a heart at­tack, it’s di­a­betes. ... It’s a long, slow slide that you can do some­thing about.”

The fo­rum, which at­tracted busi­ness peo­ple, eco­nomic ad­vis­ers and politi­cians at­tend­ing the fo­rum, was organized by the Union of Nova Sco­tia Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, Nova Sco­tia Cham­bers of Com­merce and the Nova Sco­tia As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­i­ties.

“ Ba­si­cally, if we run out of labour, it will stop eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the prov­ince,” said McNiven, co-au­thor of three books on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and pub­lic pol­icy is­sues.

The prob­lem is caused by a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, from a de­clin­ing birth rate to an older pop­u­la­tion on the cusp of re­tire­ment.

“ The par­a­digm of growth and jobs is shift­ing,” said McNiven. “Be­fore there were too many peo­ple for too few jobs. Now it’s be­com­ing too many jobs for too few peo­ple.

He called a rare sit­u­a­tion his­tor­i­cally, ex­cept in war­time.

McNiven said if Nova Sco­tia wants to con­tinue a moderate eco­nomic growth of one or two per cent a year, more labour will be needed.

“ The per­sis­tent labour short­age is the No. 1 eco­nomic prob­lem in Nova Sco­tia,” he said, es­pe­cially in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia.

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