Ivany report anniversary underlines need for change

In the year since the Ivany Commission told Nova Scotians that fundamental changes are needed to reverse the slide in the economy, critics say the government is "slow off the mark," implementing the changes.

Change needed to reverse slide in Nova Scotia economy, said report

Ray Ivanely, chair of commission on building Nova Scotia's new economy delivered his report Feb. 12, 2014. (CBC)

In the year since the Ivany Commission told Nova Scotians that fundamental changes are needed to reverse the slide in the economy, critics say the government is "slow off the mark," implementing the changes.

The report called "Now or Never: A Call to Action for Nova Scotians" made 19 recommendations that include boosting exports and the number of new businesses, as well as attracting more people to Nova Scotia. 

If Nova Scotia's economy were performing well today... the wise advice would be to stay the course and avoid major changes. But this is not our situation, nor does the future outlook promise relief - Now or Never: A call to Action, February 2014

John Bragg is the founder and president of Oxford Frozen Foods, the world's largest blueberry producer, and a member of the Ivany Commission. 

He gave the keynote speech Wednesday night at an event called For the Love of Nova Scotia, hosted by the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies.

Here's Bragg's assessment of what progress the province has made, one year later:

"Well I'm not either satisfied or disappointed, but I do think we are slow off the mark," said the Cumberland County blueberry baron and owner of Eastlink Cable. 

"We spent a lot of time in the Ivany report saying there is a mini-crisis or a crisis here in the province and we need to get at it. We need some new policies, new efforts. We do need changes in attitude but we have to have leadership from the provincial government as well."

The Ivany report predicted it would take 10 years to turn the economy around. The province has appointed 15 community leaders to the One Nova Scotia Coalition which has until the end of this year to develop a detailed plan to implement the Ivany recommendations.

The AIMS event also included a panel discussion on the Ivany report.

Barry Zwicker, the head of the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce who spent 10 years in the renewable energy business, said there is another challenge facing government as it tries to convince people to take more initiative on their own.

"We're a long way from being the capital of startups, for sure," said Zwicker. "The primary reason is we are scared stiff of change, generally speaking, change is perceived as bad. If the reports that end up in the media say change is bad, if government believes that people are afraid of change, they won't create change," said Zwicker 

10 things Ivany report recommended to improve economy

  1. Reverse out-migration
  2. Triple the number of immigrants arriving to 7,000 a year
  3. Grow the number of new businesses by 50 per cent
  4. Reduce youth unemployment to the national average
  5. Double the revenue generated by tourism
  6. Double exports of shellfish and farm products(wine,food)
  7. Double research partnerships between universities and businesses
  8. Increase by 50 per cent the number of companies who export
  9. Raise the labour force participation rate of First Nations and African Nova Scotians
  10. Increase the percentage to 65 per cent of Nova Scotians with training after highschool