About fifty people chatted cheerily in a sunlit room on the eighth floor of the World Trade and Convention Centre yesterday for the launch of the Halifax Connector Program, a social networking initiative to attract and retain immigrants in Nova Scotia.

“We need to come up with programs that will help people stay, whether they’re from Nova Scotia or not,” Halifax Citadel-Sable Island MLA Leonard Preyra said after the press conference. “We need people, that’s the bottom line.”

Fred Morley of the Greater Halifax Partnership told the audience, mostly made up of investors, that Halifax would have 64,000 jobs available by 2013.

 

But in June, the unemployment rate in Nova Scotia hit 9.4 per cent, higher than the national average of 8.6 per cent, statistics from the partnership say, challenging Nova Scotia’s new NDP government to retain skilled workers before they head out west.

“It’s particularly important in rural Nova Scotia,” Preyra said.

But according to the stats, the unemployment rate in Halifax was 14.6 per cent in June this year, compared to 12.4 per cent this time last year, higher than any other area in the province.

Preyra said there are other programs in place for native Nova Scotians.

“Whether or not you’re a native born Nova Scotian, or you’re someone who’s immigrated to Nova Scotia, or (you’re) planning to come to Nova Scotia, getting a job and keeping a job in meaningful work is goal number one,” he said.

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