An Eye Opener for Nova Scotians
Thursday January 25th 2007, 10:54 am

The Nova Scotia government has been trying to get Nova Scotians, who have gone to work in Alberta, to return home, because we are also facing a labour shortage. Their campaign is based on the premise that there are jobs here, that it is cheaper to live here and we have a better quality of life here. Anyone who lives in Nova Scotia would agree with that. However, a recent article in our daily newspaper by Peter Moreira stated that it isn’t cheaper to live in Nova Scotia. I read the article, and I was very surprised by his figures. Today’s reader’s poll in the newspaper asked whether Nova Scotians agreed with the article, and 61% said no, 26% said yes, and 13% don’t know. I have never lived outside of Nova Scotia, so I don’t know if the figures are correct for the other regions. I wonder how many people, who voted no, have lived outside Nova Scotia, and can actually make a comparison, and how many Nova Scotians are surprised by the comparisons in the article.

According to the article, the ACOA website states that “the cost of living in Atlantic Canada is 25% to 65% lower than other major North American regions”. The ACOA stats refer to all of Atlantic Canada, and not just the Halifax area, so these figures wouldn’t be relevant to the comparisons in the article. The cost of property is much cheaper in Halifax than in other places. The average price of a house in Calgary is $362,000, $336,000. in Toronto and $206,000. in Halifax. In fact, you can get a nice house in a nice neighbourhood in Dartmouth for less than this. The article agrees that this is where you can save money, because things like income tax, property tax, home heating, gas and electricity, are much more expensive here.

The article based it’s figures on a $350,000. house in Calgary, Toronto and Halifax. Of course a $350,000. house in Halifax would be a very nice house, whereas this price in Toronto and Calgary would get you just a small, basic house. The only way to save money when you live in Nova Scotia, is to buy an average $200,000. house and invest the $150,000. difference.

The article provided comparisons of the following expenses. Income Tax on a yearly salary of $70,000. would be $16,510. in Toronto, $17,107. in Calgary and $19,604. in Halifax. Property tax on a $275,000 assessment in Toronto is $2,283, $2,118. in Calgary and $3,878. in Halifax. Home heating with gas in Calgary or Toronto is $758. and $1,135. for oil in Halifax (natural gas isn’t available to many homes yet in Nova Scotia). Electricity is $653. in Toronto, $912. in Calgary and $1,041. in Halifax. Gasoline is $1,678. in Toronto, $1,750. in Calgary and $1,951. in Halifax.

I would agree with the Halifax figures on everything except gasoline, because the daily commute to a job in Toronto would be substantially longer than in Halifax, so more gas would be used. The daily commute in Calgary would be similiar to Halifax. The totals for a person who earned $70,000. a year for income tax, property tax, electricity, heat and gasoline is $21,882. in Toronto, $22,545. in Calgary and $27,607. in Halifax. The article also mentioned that sales tax (HST-14%), food and air travel are higher in Nova Scotia than in Calgary and Toronto.

Living in Nova Scotia would cost a person, who earns $70,000. a year, about $6,000. more than living in Toronto, and $5,000. more than living in Calgary. The other problem is that there are more jobs in Calgary and Toronto which would pay $70,000. a year, as the same job here would pay less. For people who decide to move to Nova Scotia from these areas, it would depend on their priorities. It’s also hard to compare cities the size of Calgary and Toronto to Halifax which has a population of only 350,000. We are further away from the larger population areas in Ontario and Quebec, which makes a difference in the cost of goods. The cost of services is cheaper here, and it is much easier to get things done here in Nova Scotia.

People who live in Nova Scotia think that we have a better quality of life here, and I would agree with that. Anyone who has lived here, would love to return home, if they thought they could earn a decent living. Lowering their living standard a little, would be worth it. It is a hard decision when rural people must move to the city or leave the Province, to find work. They may have to give up a quality of life, in order to earn a living. For Nova Scotians who have lived in other regions, it is sometimes harder to give up what they have had, than it is if they have never had it. For some people, having lots of things isn’t as important as being happy and having a good quality of life.

As for me, I am glad I didn’t have to leave in the first place.

Have a good day,
Anne