Nova Scotia is spending $21 million to get the Yarmouth ferry re-started, but that doesn’t guarantee any Nova Scotia jobs on the ship.

“We have a private operator that is operating the ferry on behalf of the province of Nova Scotia. Those are decisions that are left to the ferry operator,” said Michel Samson, the minister of economic development.

The province’s agreement with Nova Star Cruises requires the operator to use commercially reasonable efforts to maximize job creation in southwest Nova Scotia and employ Nova Scotians. 

'Let's focus on what's important and that's getting the ferry and giving 70 million people access to us.' - Pam Mood, mayor of Yarmouth

“While we hope to see as many Nova Scotians working on this, it is a private company and it'll be left to them to make their hiring decisions,” Samson said.

Bay Ferries, which ran the previous service to Maine, said it used almost entirely Canadian crews.

20 jobs based in Yarmouth

But Sean Lewis of Nova Star Cruises wouldn’t make that commitment.

“Fleet Pro, who is formerly ISP, who is a manager of passenger ships worldwide, is responsible for staff and crew onboard Nova Star and it will be an experienced, international crew. All shore-based employees in Yarmouth will be Nova Scotians,” he said Friday.

That amounts to about 20 jobs.

Pam Mood, the mayor of Yarmouth, said the important thing is drawing tourists to the region.

“I think what people are forgetting is that first, there won't be the ‘hundreds upon hundreds’ of jobs expected. Second, and perhaps most important to us, is the jobs created in other sectors, i.e. hotels, retail, food establishments, etc,” she said.

“Let's focus on what's important and that's getting the ferry and giving 70 million people access to us here.”

Casino company seeks Bluenosers

A U.S. company won the six-year contract to run the on-board casino. The five-member crew it has in place are all internationals — i.e, not Nova Scotians — but it wants to hire locals.

“I would very much welcome Canadian staff, preferably from Yarmouth or close vicinity. Since we just closed this deal, we are still in the process of hammering out a schedule,” said Vera Pratt of Cruise Ships Operations.