Five weeks after back-room boy turned Conservative leader Jamie Baillie called Darrell Dexter’s pledge to move some provincial government jobs out of Halifax and to rural areas “a cynical and cruel promise to make to the people of rural Nova Scotia”, the NDP announced its move without an election in sight.
The Chronicle Herald praised the work:
The NDP government attempted to strike a balance between fairness (local spinoffs for job-hungry rural Nova Scotia) and functionality (efficient delivery of services)…
Furthermore, if the taxpayer does not notice the difference in the long run, and services do not suffer — perhaps they will even improve in some cases — then clearly the NDP’s decentralization policy is a winning initiative…
The government’s general idea — and execution thereof — have been sound so far. What we are witnessing is not a massively disruptive operation to plunk government jobs in rural Nova Scotia willy-nilly. Rather, it’s a measured approach, with some forethought given to which communities would be the right fit for specific jobs.
In the age of communications, a geographically compact province like this one should be able to make decentralization work smoothly.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business raised questions about whether the move will be revenue neutral. Quickly, however, the lower rents in rural office buildings will catch up to the cost of any civil servant moving fees.
The Nova Scotia Government Employees Union wondered if the move was creating hardship among employees. But the civil servants who choose to stay in Halifax will be moved to other departments, and those who do move to small town Nova Scotia will find their new locales have beauty beyond compare.
As we have stated before, this is about provincial equity. Not all government departments need to be located in Halifax. Main Streets across the province could use those jobs and the economic benefits. Many governments have talked about decentralization to help rural Nova Scotia, but the NDP is actually doing it.