UPDATE: A previous version of this article said "around 5,000 people" were considering moving to Nova Scotia. This number should have said "around 531,000."
According to Tourism Nova Scotia, around 531,000 people have considered moving to the province since its work-from-home campaign launched late last year.
The Work From Nova Scotia campaign, which began Dec. 14 and ends March 31, focuses on attracting Canadian remote workers to Nova Scotia to relocate for a longer-term stay or a permanent move.
Tourism Nova Scotia’s chief marketing officer Joann Fitzgerald said Tourism Nova Scotia is working with the other Crown organizations and corporations in the province “toward that goal collectively.”
A Statistics Canada survey released on July 14 last year shows working remotely became more prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey shows 33 per cent of businesses reported 10 per cent or more of their workforce was working remotely on May 29, 2020. This was nearly twice the amount reported Feb. 1, 2020 when 17 per cent of businesses reported the same data.
The survey also shows that once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, 23 per cent of businesses expect that 10 per cent or more of their workforce will continue working remotely.
Currently, Tourism Nova Scotia’s work-from-home campaign is only focused on Canadians since visas and other documentation aren’t required to relocate.
Fitzgerald told NEWS 95.7’s The Rick Howe Show the campaign is open to all Canadians across the country. However, it’s focusing heavily on larger cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary because it’s likely those cities have a larger remote worker population.
While reasons like population growth were motivators for the campaign’s creation, Fitzgerald said the COVID-19 pandemic also played a part.
“It is a little bit about making lemonade out of some lemons,” she said. “I think the fact of the matter is remote working is growing around the world, and it’s been ramped up because of the pandemic.
“Our creative approach really is about the greatest benefit of working from Nova Scotia: it’s that you get to live here.”
Nova Scotia has been lauded as one of the most successful areas in North America in its fight against COVID-19.
As the province continues to see low cases and the Atlantic bubble prepares for a return, Nova Scotia’s general safety regarding COVID-19 has been a key selling point for the campaign.
Another quality the campaign promotes is the province’s natural beauty. For example, Fitzgerald said people in Nova Scotia can step outdoors and see the ocean rather than in a large city like Toronto where someone may be surrounded by buildings.
However, she said Nova Scotia isn’t entirely void of those larger buildings — it has both qualities.
“We have the best of both worlds,” she said. “So, that’s what we’re leveraging in our creative approach.”
The campaign's website provides information prospective migrants may need when thinking of moving to Nova Scotia. It lists information for things such as healthcare, schools, things to do and real estate.
But finding housing in Nova Scotia — particularly housing that’s affordable — has become an issue in the province.
Last summer, the Halifax Regional Municipality's real estate market saw a boom that made buying difficult for many homebuyers. It's a trend that's still continuing as many properties sell for above the lister's asking price.
In December of last year, the federal and provincial governments invested $10.5 million into Halifax under Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative. That funding will help build 52 new affordable housing units.
Fitzgerald said she understands it could be difficult for Nova Scotians short term, but the long-term effects will be beneficial to the entire province.
“There’s going to be a few growing pains along the way, but certainly to the benefit to the economy and all of Nova Scotia,” she said. “Seeing this increase will be a positive thing.”
While the campaign's website has seen 531,000 engaged users — those who visited for more than 10 seconds and/or did an activity like clicking a link — since its launch, the campaign's goal is to see 15,000 people move to Nova Scotia by the end of 2021.
To determine the campaign's success, Nova Scotia Business Inc. will work with the provincial and federal governments to track who moves to the province.