Premier’s Reflections on Nova Scotia
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
As 2019 comes to an end and a new year, a new decade begins, it is hard not to take a pause and reflect on why I am optimistic about the future of this province.
It starts with you - the great people of Nova Scotia.
I am grateful to all of you for your hard work and continued commitment to our province.
We set out on a journey six years ago thanks to the Ivany report to diversify our economy and our population.
I know it hasn't always been easy, but we are starting to see positive results.
Our economy no longer depends on a few industries; it is made up of many parts.
Our traditional sectors, including tourism, are still the driving force within our rural communities and are the best example of hard work and innovation.
As a government, we set out to find global markets and a fair price for our high-quality Nova Scotia products, and because our industries stepped up with the confidence to enter those markets, our exports are booming.
We have world class blueberries, wines that are winning international awards, home grown produce that is gaining a positive reputation in the agri-food industry and we are now Canada's seafood leader - jumping from export sales of $1 billion in 2013 to more than $2 billion this year.
We've also taken our place in the tech economy.
Scotiabank, for example, has expanded its space and increased its back-office staff. IBM is enlarging its footprint, too.
It makes me proud, as your premier, when I meet with bank executives who tell me they are choosing Nova Scotia, not only because of our strong work ethic and friendly demeanor (sic), but because we are smart.
That smart and savvy attitude is also why our startup community is thriving.
Across the province, people are innovating and creating their own jobs.
More and more technology firms are serving global markets from Nova Scotia.
Our job, as a government, is to provide the tools to support the startup economy, but it is the private sector that drives the investment and I am thankful to our business leaders for taking risks, for hiring more Nova Scotians and for believing in this province.
Our universities and Crown Corporations (sic) have also contributed whether it be through research and development or connecting our companies to programs that work for them.
A growing economy matters.
It means we are generating revenue to deliver important programs and services that all Nova Scotians deserve.
We added 84 more pre-primary classrooms this fall in the third year of our four-year rollout.
I am very proud that next year, this program will be available to all four-year-olds across the province, regardless of socio-economic status.
Mental health supports for students are now available across the province through the SchoolsPlus program.
We're taking important steps to improve access to primary care with additional residency spaces and funding more seats at the Dalhousie Medical School.
And, we're undertaking two of the biggest infrastructure projects in our history with health-care redevelopment projects in the Halifax region and Cape Breton, which will help attract health-care professionals and improve patient care.
We are making these investments while also balancing our budgets ensuring that our economy is stable.
It is also important that the fabric of our communities stays strong and the face of those communities is changing thanks to the way our province continues to embrace Immigration.
Our population reached another all-time high earlier this fall - the fastest growth in almost 50 years.
And for the first time since 1964, our province is getting younger. More young people are choosing to live, work and raise a family here.
This is an exciting time to live in Nova Scotia, but I am acutely aware that challenges remain for individuals and communities.
The pending closure of the Northern Pulp mill will have a wide impact, but our government made a promise five years ago to clean up Boat Harbour and we are committed to doing that.
We are also committed to providing the support necessary as we make the transition to a different type of forestry industry. It will take time and patience, but to those families and businesses in the forestry sector, we will be with you every step of the way.
These are tough decisions, but, as a premier, who represents all Nova Scotians, I need to think about our future and the future of this province.
We need to weigh economic interests and environmental impacts in a way that respects both and neglects neither.
Nova Scotia is open for business and it is my hope, as we enter 2020, that we continue to have the confidence to compete globally from Nova Scotia and that we continue to believe in this province and in each other.
All the best in 2020.
Premier of Nova Scotia
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