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Danny Cavanagh: Buy local – Do the 10% shift, and boost the local economy

In 2012/2013, when I was  CUPE Nova Scotia president, we had a big campaign called the 10% shift.

Every month, you spend a lot of money – on your home, your family, your car, food, clothes… the list just goes on. So when you think about it, that’s a lot of power you hold in your hands. By shifting 10% of your spending to local businesses and producers, the Ten Percent Shift is really just about using some of that power to make your community stronger and an even better place to live. And provide you with great products and services along the way.

The Shift doesn’t ask you to spend more – it just says if you change how you spend, you can make a real difference in your community.

It is estimated that around 80 cents of every dollar circulates back into the economy. Nova Scotia has an abundance of local products and services, as does our country. We also have an abundance of raw material still in the ground. We need to hear more from our government on building more products in both Canada and Nova Scotia. America takes pride in talking about made in the USA, and we need to do the same.

We have seen enough of watching companies pack up and move away to another country just to reap more profit. It’s time to hear more on penalties for those businesses which shut down and transfer jobs where labour is cheaper. We cannot sit by and watch companies reap all the government assistance and rewards only to pull out when that dries up.

We all understand that part of the path to economic recovery must be built on creating jobs, not moving them out. Buying local products and services will help the local economy.

If you go into a big chain department store, you feel as though you could be almost anywhere. The feel and look are the same everywhere. When we spend local, we are embracing our community’s unique identity. I am not knocking the people who work in the big box stores, but most of the money spent in them doesn’t hang around the local economy.

Local business and the jobs they provide are essential. You don’t have to look too far to get your hands on a study showing that local small business is an employment creator, so why not encourage more local start-ups? Why would government shift jobs away?

It must all start with government leadership. Government procurement policies must prioritize the use of Canadian and Nova Scotia products and services first. No more spouting green rhetoric while selling out jobs or the continuance of bringing in outside services and products. Think about the environment and the transportation of goods. Locals goods need not travel as far. No one has yet tackled the excessive packaging, although we rid ourselves of plastic bags. Remember that many non-profit groups receive support from local businesses. More local businesses could use existing space downtown so let’s open up the main street again. More local businesses mean a more substantial tax base that provides public services for your family.

Let’s get behind campaigns that promote the purchase of products manufactured in Canada and Nova Scotia to create and maintain good-paying jobs. Doing so also has many other benefits with the associated spin-off employment.

Whether it’s us as individuals choosing to buy locals, or it’s our government, together with our collective choice at the cash register, we all win. We must become more self-sufficient. Our political leaders must start and follow new ideas and thoughts that build our economy. By taking up the challenge to buy locally in our province and country first, we can lead. 

So, let’s not wait for our politicians to see the light. Let’s show them the light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s show them what action can do. It’s time for new ways to build back. Start today and buy more local products and services. Look for the tag. Demand that your MP, MLA and municipal council look at things from a local, not global, perspective.

Danny Cavanagh is president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

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