Government will report more about its deals with businesses than any province in Canada, with legislation introduced today, Dec. 3.
Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Michel Samson tabled the Act to Ensure Accountability in Providing Economic Development Assistance in Nova Scotia.
Last month, the minister announced greater controls for financial transactions, including working with the Internal Audit Centre and hiring a fund manager to focus on controls, governance and compliance.
“Being open and upfront with Nova Scotians is the first step in our commitment to support economic growth,” said Mr. Samson. “Nova Scotians are the true investors and we will provide them more details than ever before so they understand the reasons for, and the results of, their investments.”
Government must post details of all agreements from the province’s jobs and strategic investment funds, as well as reports twice a year on progress for targets and timelines. Government must also report agreement amendments.
The legislation, which also applies to Nova Scotia Business Inc., applies to deals signed after Oct. 22, 2013. Postings will begin once regulations are established, no later than April 1.
The province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and trade agreements will be respected.
Mr. Samson said government is committed to fundamental change in how government supports economic growth, including a greater focus on small- and medium-sized businesses.
The minister also announced an independent review of loans, grants, rebates and other assistance to help determine the appropriate role of government support for economic growth.
The review will make recommendations on what programs work well, and what ones need to change or stop.
“The Ivany commission has heard ideas from hundreds of Nova Scotians about the best way to support economic development in their communities,” said Mr. Samson. “The independent review will give us solid information so we are ready to act once the commission reports.”
The Nova Scotia Commission on Building our New Economy, led by Acadia University President Ray Ivany, is expected to make its report public in early 2014. The commission is looking at innovation, skills training, and competitiveness work in a local context, in tourism, manufacturing and primary production sectors to better meet the needs of communities.
The review of loans, loan guarantees, grants, equity, and payroll rebates announced today is expected to take about three months. It will consider experiences in Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions, and what role government may have in helping the business sector become more competitive, entrepreneurial and productive.