Nancy Conrad
Nancy Conrad, Senior Vice President, Policy

Every year the Chamber releases a pre-budget submission outlining what we are looking for in the province’s spring budget. The submission also serves as the basis for our advocacy work over the coming year. The following is an excerpt from our submission that was released earlier this year.

Education is the foundation of our collective prosperity and an investment in our future. The Halifax Chamber of Commerce agrees, and has identified growing and nurturing a skilled workforce as one of the major thrusts of our 2013-2018 strategic plan’s goal to see Halifax become a top three economic growth city in Canada by 2018. If we want to be a more successful city and province in the future, we need to pay close attention to the education decisions we make today. In the Chamber’s pre-budget submission last year, we called on the government to take three main actions on education:

  • Launch a comprehensive review of Nova Scotia’s education curriculum to ensure that our children have the best possible preparation for the modern workplace
  • Review how the province trains its teachers to ensure that the best possible candidates are recruited and teaching graduates have good career prospects
  • Make every effort to manage reforms within the education system’s existing budget

With the release of the Minister’s Panel on Education’s (the Panel) final report, we are very pleased to see that the government is making progress on all three of these goals. Overall, the Chamber was very happy with the Panel’s report. It is a bold call for change and it clearly argues that to build a better education system we need to change the status quo. In particular, we are very supportive of the Panel’s recommendations to:

  • Strengthen the curriculum to increase the focus on core skills and provide teachers with more freedom to adjust their teaching methods to fit the needs of students.
  • Improve the training, certification, and performance management systems for teachers.
  • Increase the resources available in schools by breaking down departmental silos and focusing on delivering services for youth in schools.

It was also good to see that the Panel acknowledged that there will likely be little new money to fund the education system. While we approved of most of the Panel’s recommendations, we had hoped to see a stronger focus on preparing students for the careers of tomorrow and entrepreneurship training.

The government has made good progress in this area, but this is just the beginning. Education Minister Karen Casey has promised to release the government’s response to the Minister’s Panel by January. We are looking for her report to be bold and with a strong implementation plan implement the kind of change that is clearly necessary.

The Chamber recommends that the province:

  • Release a detailed action plan to reform the education system in Nova Scotia and set clear timelines and outcomes to measure success
  • Ensure that the reforms are consistent with Nova Scotia’s ability to pay