by Patrick Sullivan
Originally published: July 21, 2016
In late June, I had the good fortune to attend a roundtable hosted by The Pluralism Project. It was part of a series of consultations with the business community conducted in seven cities across Canada. The goal was to discuss the economic benefits of diversity and potential ideas for how we can increase diversity in our society.
So why is diversity important for the business community?
First of all, Nova Scotia is facing serious demographic problems. According to the Nova Scotia Department of Finance, by 2041 Nova Scotia’s population is projected to shrink by more than six per cent and the working-age population is projected to decrease by 18 per cent. This decline represents a major threat to the future prosperity of our province.
Embracing diversity represents one of the best tools we have to help turn this demographic tide. For example, both the Aboriginal and African Nova Scotian communities are growing faster than the rest of the population. In between the 2006 and 2011 census, Nova Scotia’s population only grew by 0.9 per cent, while the Aboriginal and African Nova Scotian populations grew by 40 per cent and eight per cent respectively. These groups however, suffered from significantly worse employment outcomes. In 2011, Nova Scotia had an overall unemployment rate of 10 per cent, while Aboriginal and African Nova Scotians had unemployment rates of 15 per cent and 14.5 per cent. Helping disadvantaged groups achieve labour market success, combined with other actions such as increasing immigration, will help ensure that we have enough workers to meet demand.