Nova Scotia Election 2021

Get out and vote August 17, 2021.

Retail is the largest private sector employer in Nova Scotia.

Find out why #RetailMatters to Nova Scotians.


of Nova Scotia’s workforce works in retail. That’s 57,350 people (48,105 core retail*)


storefronts in Nova Scotia


of retailers employ less than 20 employees

$2 Billion

in total annual compensation paid to retail workers


Nova Scotia’s average total compensation per hour for retail employees

$16 Billion

in annual Retail Sales ($9.9 Billion in Core retail Sales)

Source: Statistics Canada 2019

*Core retail excludes gas stations and auto dealer employees

Why Nova Scotia Retail Matters

Nova Scotia retailers have faced head-on the incredible and devastating financial challenges of COVID-19.  If you have an opportunity to engage your local candidates, take time to share your experiences and view of Nova Scotia’s retail industry.

Be sure to also let candidates know that you are part of Nova Scotia’s largest private employment sector and that retail has a significant impact on the success of several other industries such as transportation, construction, property management, information technology and financial services.

Here are some ideas that you can share with your candidates while spreading the word about retail:

  • More than one in every ten jobs in Nova Scotia is in retail.
  • 18% of all retailers employ less than 20 employees.
  • Retail in Nova Scotia pays $2 billion in total annual compensation.

Every election provides the electorate with the ability to shape their government and help to ensure that future members of the House of Assembly understand the role merchants play in Nova Scotian’s lives and the economy.

Where the Parties Stand

Retail Council of Canada sent a questionnaire to the leading political parties addressing the key issues affecting retail in the province. Responses will be listed in order of the current number of seats held.

Retail Survey Questions

  1. Will your party pledge to work with the Retail Council of Canada to develop and implement a COVID-19 retail recovery economic strategy?  For years, other industries have received government incentives for investing in people, technology and e-commerce.
  2. Is your party prepared to adhere to the current model of determining annual minimum wage adjustments through a formula that is linked to CPI?            
  3. Will your party pledge to not raise corporate taxes (small and large businesses) or the HST during your mandate?
  4. Will your party commit to conduct a review of the numerous fees charged on businesses?
  5. Will you take steps to ensure foreign eCommerce sellers begin to pay their fair share of taxes and eco-fees?
  6. Would your government take action to harmonize policies related to solid waste regulations across Atlantic Canada?
  7. Would your government take steps towards the liberalization of alcohol sales in Nova Scotia by regulating the sale of beer, wine and ready to drink beverage products in retail stores?

Retail Survey Responses from Parties

Nova Scotia Key Retail Issues

Develop a retail sector strategy

Retailers are resilient and despite unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19, continue to fight to remain a viable and essential element of the province’s economy.

COVID-19 has created significant disruption to Nova Scotia’s retail sector.  In 2019, the retail sector provided a $16 billion boost to the provincial economy, and over 57,000 jobs. Beyond COVID-19, Nova Scotia retailers are facing significant cumulative costs and competitive pressures. In the modern age of retail, there is no certainty of continued success as national, online, and offshore channels threaten ‘brick-and-mortar’ Nova Scotia stores.


  • Work with Retail Council of Canada to develop a proper retail recovery strategy, commensurate with the size of the retail industry. While other industries have been the focus of sector strategies and incentives, the retail industry has long been overlooked. The ongoing costs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic (including health order requirements) have created increased pressure on the province’s retail sector.  RCC is calling on the government to be a collaborative partner in finding solutions.

Maintain predictable minimum wage

person with law scale

Nova Scotia has established a predictable model for calculating annual minimum wage adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index. The approach helps ensure politics are removed from the process, and that minimum wage increases are balanced fairly between the interests of employees and employers. Nova Scotia’s model also mandates a review, every year to ensure that the province’s wage remains competitive within the country.  In 2020, the Nova Scotia government ignored its predictable and balanced approach by adding a last minute, surprise increase to an already planned increase in the province’s minimum wage. 


  • Adhere to the current CPI linked approach to minimum wage adjustments so as to ensure a transparent, predictable formula and adequate lead time for budget planning.

Maintain competitive tax rates and fees within the region

Competitive tax rates are an important tool for governments to attract and retain businesses.  Nova Scotia’s commercial tax rates are competitive within Atlantic Canada while the province’s Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is equal to that in the other Atlantic provinces. However, recent commercial tax relief in neighbouring Atlantic Provinces suggest that Nova Scotia cannot become complacent and lose some of its competitive edge. 

Businesses also deal with the annual burden of paying for the various fees charged by government.  Individually, these fees do not generate a significant amount of revenue for government but they do create a negative impact for retailers across the province.  Retailers understand that they need to be licensed in order to sell certain products.  However, it can be frustrating when a small, rural retailer has to pay significant licensing fees to meet demand for certain products from a small but loyal customer base.  For some of the fees charged to businesses, the minimal amount of revenue received by the government does not outweigh the negative impact that such fees have on small businesses.  Nova Scotia has had success in recent years, in eliminating or at least reducing some of these fees yet more work needs to be done.


  • Commit to not raising corporate tax rate or the HST during your mandate.
  • Commit to a review of the numerous fees charged on businesses

Ensure eCommerce sellers pay their fair share

The pandemic has resulted in significant increases in online sales, primarily benefiting non-resident, foreign eCommerce sellers. Those retailers have lower property and labour costs than brick and mortar provincial sellers, and generally provide their employees significantly lower pay and benefits. Most of these ecommerce sellers do not employ Nova Scotians. Many non-resident eCommerce entities sell into the province without paying eco-fees, yet the packaging for their shipments and products; as well as the products themselves at end-of-life, are discarded into our recycling system. Governments are currently paying these costs.  However, should the province eventually move forward with an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for packaging, Nova Scotia’s brick-and-mortar retailers would be paying these costs on behalf of their competition. This process would ultimately subsidize foreign online sellers, from the United States, Asia and beyond.


Provide provincial leadership on issues related to environmental stewardship.

RCC commends the provincial government for finally taking a leadership role regarding single use plastic checkout bags.  For a number of years, the provincial government’s refusal to provide direction regarding these bags, led to threats of local initiatives from municipal governments. Municipal action in areas of environmental stewardship that impact industry can lead to the creation of bylaws that are not harmonized with best practices in the rest of Canada.  Such actions can needlessly create public confusion, administrative red tape from a confusing patchwork of municipal initiatives and increased costs for businesses in the province. 


Allow the sale of beer, wine and ready to drink products in retail stores.

The provincial government should take steps towards the liberalization of alcohol sales in the province.  Other provinces have demonstrated that a step-by-step approach towards the liberalization of alcohol sales can benefit producers and retailers while avoiding public misconceptions surrounding such actions.  This approach has not had a negative impact on government jobs or government coffers.  In fact, the approach has helped local producers. 

The government need only look to its neighbour in New Brunswick to see a current example of the benefits in allowing the sale of beer, wine and ready-to-drink beverages in retail stores. 

  • Retailers continue to demonstrate their ability to properly manage the business and social aspects involved in selling heavily regulated products (on behalf of Liquor Corporations) in a responsible and successful manner.  Nova Scotia retailers could help the government achieve levels of success in the sale of beer, wine and ready-to-drink beverages, similar to those seen in other provinces, like New Brunswick.  There are craft brewers and vintners across Nova Scotia who could benefit from the opportunity to sell their product in retail stores.  The governing party could provide this opportunity through a responsible, step-by-step approach that benefits business and ultimately leads to provincewide sales of beer, wine and ready-to-drink beverage products in retail stores. 

Get Involved

Use these tools to contact your local candidates and make your voice heard.

1. Find your candidates

Use the Elections Nova Scotia tool to find candidates and their contact info for your electoral district.

Learn about your local candidates by visiting the party websites:

2. Print your sign

Show your pride in retail by posting a photo of your retail staff holding a #RetailMatters sign or a photo of your store.

Print #RetailMatters Sign

3. Tell candidates #RetailMatters

Use these links to send your staff photos or customized tweets to political parties.

Contributing to political parties – what you need to know

Contributing to a campaign can be an effective way to build relationships with candidates in your riding.

Make sure that you understand the rules before lending your support to a provincial political party and its campaign.  Here is a quick summary:

Who can contribute?

Only individuals normally residing in Nova Scotia.

What is the contribution limit?

The maximum contribution by any individual is $5000 total in a calendar year per political party. This includes both monetary and non-monetary contributions.

How can a contribution be made?

Only individuals can contribute to a candidate, an electoral district association or a registered political party (a spouse can contribute on behalf of their partner). 

Who can receive contributions?

Contributions must be made through the Official Agent of a nominated candidate, an electoral district association or a registered political party.  The Official Agent must be a resident of Nova Scotia and must keep a complete record of each contribution including the name of the recipient.  Tax receipts for contributions can only be issued by the Official Agent.

What are the restrictions?

An Official Agent cannot accept more than $100 in cash from any contributor in a calendar year. 

Individuals cannot contribute more than $5000 (see above) and donations are prohibited from organizations (corporations, partnerships, trade unions) or anonymous donors. An individual is exempt from reporting up to $50 in donations in kind in a calendar year but the Official Agent must track all donations in kind contributions to ensure an individual does not exceed their limit.

Sections 235-258 of the Election’s Act provide additional information regarding monetary and non-monetary contributions to political campaigns.  More information can be found at:

Jim Cormier

For questions or more information contact

Jim Cormier
Director, Government Relations (Atlantic) 
902 422-4144