New residents encouraged to move by N.S. government now say they’re ‘homeless’

Click to play video: 'People moving to Nova Scotia unable to cross border' People moving to Nova Scotia unable to cross border
WATCH: A million-dollar advertising campaign by the Nova Scotia government aimed to entice remote workers to move to the province. Now, those who took the province up on their offer say they’re locked out – many just shy of the May 20 cut-off date the province set for new home owners to be able to cross the border. Alexa MacLean reports – May 20, 2021

The Nova Scotia government spent $1.1 million on a marketing campaign recruiting new residents to move to the province.

According to the province, economic recovery was the aim and enticing Canadians to move to the province played a crucial role in that picture.

“The government wants people to move to Nova Scotia. We want to move to Nova Scotia. So, let’s do it!” said Sarah Romkey, a born Nova Scotian who has lived in Ontario for the past decade with her family.

Read more: COVID-19 — Ontario couple spends 2 nights on side of road trying to reach Nova Scotia

Romkey says the pandemic led to her family wanting to move back to their roots so that they could be closest to those they hold near and dear.

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As remote workers, they fit the criteria the provincially backed advertising campaign aimed to attract.

Thus ensued the selling of their Ontario home and purchasing of their Lunenburg home.

All was well until the Nova Scotia border closed and the cutoff date for compassionate exceptions for new homeowners was set to May 20 or before.

Romkey’s closing agreement for their Lunenburg home is a few days past that cutoff.

“As of this moment in time, we’re actually homeless. The house in Hamilton has sold. We don’t close on the house in Lunenburg until next week,” she said.

Read more: After days of complaints, Nova Scotia attempts to simplify COVID-19 travel application process

Romkey says she’s not alone. She and dozens of other new residents in similar positions have co-signed a letter to the Nova Scotia government urging the province to assess compassionate exception applications on a case-by-case basis.

“It seems so arbitrary. I feel like we deserve the chance to prove that we can come in and not be a risk,” she said.

Despite the $1.1 million spent on the new resident recruiting campaign that ran until March 31, Premier Iain Rankin’s government is standing behind its May 20 cutoff date.

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“We’re in a state of emergency and we’re confident with the restrictions that we have in place in our province and at our border,” Rankin said during a May 12 Nova Scotia COVID-19 briefing.

Considering the provincial push and investment encouraging inter-provincial migration into Nova Scotia, Romkey and others feel applications should be processed on a rolling basis.

“I appreciate that they don’t want a flood of people coming in the border, that makes complete sense to me, but you’re leaving people homeless in other provinces. It seems like as Canadians you need to think about the bigger picture,” she said.

The province says it’s receiving hundreds of compassionate exception applications a week and is striving to prioritize those most time-sensitive.

Nova Scotia’s lockdown has just been extended until at least mid-June.

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