A long-time pollster and trend-watcher in Atlantic Canada had some harsh words for business leaders in Moncton on Friday.

Don Mills of Corporate Research Associates bluntly told about 300 business leaders that Atlantic Canada is at the bottom of the list of places to live in Canada.

Don Mills

Halifax-based pollster Don Mills says the Atlantic region is one of the least attractive places in the country to live. (CBC)

"Where are we in terms of population growth — last. What does that mean? We are the least attractive place in Canada to live," said Mills.

The president of the Halifax-based market research firm was speaking at a day-long conference organized by Enterprise Greater Moncton to talk about how to position the city for the next 20 years.

In addressing the group, Mills ticked off a list of troublesome trends and statistics in Atlantic Canada.

  • Only half of the workers in Atlantic Canada got a raise last year.
  • 40 per cent of employees have not had a raise in five years.
  • It's the only region in the country where half the population lives in rural areas.
  • The population is aging at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country.

Mills said there is no reason to celebrate over a projection of 1 per cent economic growth this year.

"The growth is still minuscule. That is what we're facing in this province."

Mills was also critical of unemployed people in the region for refusing to travel for an hour to work, or accept lower paying jobs.

He also told the group that businesses rely too much on government handouts.

"Here, one of the first courses of action for any business is to go and see how much money they can get from the public purse," he said.

"Really? How self-sufficient is that?"