Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil vouched for an immigration increase and urged people to follow the Ivany report recommendations to slow the province's economic slide Tuesday.

“It is absolutely a falsehood that when we open this province to more people that we rob our own sons and daughters of opportunities,” he said at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce lunch.

“As a matter of fact, we create opportunities by making sure we open up our province.”

The lunch event attracted more than 750 people, one of its biggest crowds ever.

McNeil’s message was well received by the audience, although he did not offer any specifics about how the government will boost immigration.

McNeil also urged the business crowd to be part of the change the Ivany Commission recommended to help the province slow its economic slide.

Released last week, the economic development report suggests that the province will face an extended period of decline unless population and economic trends are reversed and suspicious attitudes about business are changed

When asked about if his government will follow through with the Ivany recommendations by making them into law, McNeil said no. He added it’s not possible to legislate prosperity, but it is possible to develop a do-it-yourself attitude that will reduce dependence on the government.

The chamber’s president Valerie Payne had another message for the premier: balance the budget by April 2015.

McNeil told the audience, however, the goal won’t be within reach for at least another three or four years.

“We’ve committed to a firm timeline to eliminate the deficit which is in our first mandate," he said.

The premier also promised a broad review of the public schools.