Who Wants To Work From Nova Scotia?

The Canadian province is heavily targeting remote workers

If you haven’t heard of Nova Scotia, I at once forgive you but also ask if you’ve been living under a media rock lately. Part of a region called “Atlantic Canada,” it became nearly world-famous for low COVID case counts, skyrocketing real estate, and swaths of people moving from other parts of Canada. Features abound in TechCrunch, The New York Times, and numerous national Canadian media outlets.

One of Canada’s least populated provinces, Nova Scotia doesn’t even count 1M residents. Despite this, Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada have been hailed as the new economic engine of Canada with its mix of manufacturing and tech ecosystems combined with ocean-front natural beauty (and a significant percentage of the world’s lobster trade). 

But I am not here to wax poetic on Nova Scotia (though I likely will in the near future. Stay tuned). 

Instead, I am here to do some hard hitting (lol) analysis of the province’s latest immigration campaign: Work From Nova Scotia

A few facts you need to know about Nova Scotia before we continue:

  • Nova Scotia is on Canada’s east coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Fundy. 

  • It is in the Atlantic Daylight Time Zone, which is one hour ahead of New York City, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto.

  • Halifax (population 350,000) is Canada’s closest major city to Europe (less than 6 hours direct flight to London, UK).

  • For nearly a decade, Nova Scotia had net negative migration. More people left than stayed or came back. Typically, young people moved to bigger cities like Toronto or Calgary to follow economic opportunities. 

  • Due to this outflow and oft-stumbling economy through the 2010’s, Nova Scotia became defined in Canadian vernacular as a “have-not” province, meaning that Canada’s equalization payments program gave more money to Nova Scotia than it took. 


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Doubling immigration targets

When the pandemic started, a lot of people went home to ride it out. For many, that meant returning to Nova Scotia. It seems they remembered all the things they loved about the province - natural beauty, kind people, etc. - and noticed things were a bit different compared to the harsh reality of a tiny condo in Toronto costing double what a family home costs in Halifax. So many of those people decided to stay. 

So many, in fact, that the province decided to double its immigration targets - to 15,000 new residents in 2021. This is both through internal migration (Canadians moving, or moving back, to Nova Scotia) and international migration through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

As it turns out, Nova Scotia didn’t have an economic problem so much as a talent problem. They simply needed smart people to move to (and work in) NS on top of the smart people that were already there. 

And that’s how we land on Work From Nova Scotia, the province’s signature campaign to attract remote works. 

Analyzing Work From Nova Scotia

The key elements that WFNS advertises is:

  • Nova Scotia’s stunning natural beauty and oceanside-ness. 

  • Housing affordability (though that’s going gangbusters at the moment).

  • Local tourist attractions like wineries, breweries, hiking, and cultural attractions in Halifax like museums, restaurants, and plays (in normal times). 

  • Blazing fast wifi (the government invested $100M back in 2018 to lay fibre internet lines throughout the province and that work is making headway).

  • Inclusiveness (Nova Scotians are the nicest people. I can confirm).

  • Proximity to Toronto, NYC, London, Dublin, and Paris - all with direct flights from Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) in normal circumstances.

Need we say more?

The province has already committed to high speed internet - the absolute first thing any government must do to attract remote workers.

From there, they touted all the key elements: culture, inclusion, and affordability. There’s even a regional airline called PAL Air to help you see other areas of Atlantic Canada and Quebec once you land.

The campaign seen around Canada

To advertise the WFNS program, the province enlisted a lot of paid advertising and sponsored content. Based on a Facebook Ad Library search, it seems they are heavily targeting Torontonians beleaguered by anti-mask and anti-vax protests even as COVID-19 case counts skyrocket (and people who actually follow the rules - yours truly included - deal with one of the world’s most strict lockdowns).

The ads are cheeky, featuring headlines like:

  • Best Zoom background ever

  • Think of it as your corporate wellness program

  • You’ll love our open concept office plan

All put up against very real, very beautiful pictures of the Nova Scotia landscape. 

If you don’t have Canadian citizenship or permanent residency, you can still move to Nova Scotia via the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. It seems a lot of Canadians have already realized the goodness going on out east though, if out of province and sight-unseen home purchases are any indication.

Thanks for reading! 

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