Nova Scotia is at a turning point in terms of the state of its economy and recent demographic changes. Recent publications, such as the Ivany Report, have highlighted this fact, pointing out a number of areas that Nova Scotians must begin to invest in order to grow an economy that is as vibrant and diverse as the communities that comprise it. What has so far been missing from this discussion has been the role of the social sector in supporting not only charitable endeavors, but also our provincial economy, youth, innovation, immigrants, collaboration, and senior citizens. The 2015 Vital Signs report, created in partnership by Saint Mary’s University researchers and the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, seeks to address this gap and foster increased understanding of the role and significance of the social sector in this changing province.
Using secondary data from government, private and social sector institutions across Canada, this research seeks to provide a snapshot of the state of the social sector in Nova Scotia. It touches on subject matter such as employment levels and sector revenue, public perceptions around charities and nonprofits, the philanthropic behavior of Nova Scotians, the growth of the social enterprise model, and human resource challenges that are faced by social sector organizations in 2015. It also highlights the ways in which Nova Scotia’s social sector can (and does) serve as a tool of empowerment for youth, immigrants and marginalized groups amidst Nova Scotia’s recent demographic and economic trends.