Nova Scotia is doomed to endure an extended period of decline unless population and economic trends are reversed and suspicious attitudes about business are changed, a report released Wednesday says.
The economic development report, written by a five-member panel led by Acadia University president Ray Ivany, says the province is in such bad shape that it is barely able to support its current standard of living.
"Because of a combination of economic and demographic factors, we are teetering on the brink of long-term decline,'' Ivany told a news conference at a museum on the Halifax waterfront, where about 250 people gathered.
Ivany said Nova Scotia's population is expected to decline over the next 20 years as young people continue to leave the province to search for work. By 2036, the province expects to have 100,000 fewer working-age people than it did in 2010, the report says.
"You cannot have economic success with a population decline,'' Ivany said. "There's no way you can make that up with productivity or efficiency gains.''
On the economic front, Nova Scotia has recorded the worst performance of any province, on average, over the past 20 years.
Ivany said this weakness can be traced, in part, to the province's lack of confidence in its business leaders and entrepreneurs.
"At best, we have an ambivalence toward entrepreneurs and the private sector,'' he said. "We're much quicker to move to suspicion about their motives than we are to celebrate their success.''
Panel member Susanna Fuller, marine co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, was more blunt: "We tend to pooh-pooh success.''
As well, Ivany said the culture in Nova Scotia is such that residents typically look to governments first for solutions.