02/13/2015 02:14 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT

Opposition questions funding to support work on Nova Scotia's economy

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government will spend up to $400,000 to help a group gauge the province's economic and demographic challenges.

Engage Nova Scotia will get $200,000 from the province, which is also pledging to match any funds raised by the private sector up to an additional $200,000.

The group, described as a citizen-led registered charity, will support the oneNS Coalition as it works to implement the recommendations of the Ivany report on the province's economy.

Chairwoman Ramona Lumpkin of Engage Nova Scotia says it will get feedback from the public about the direction they want the province to take.

But Opposition Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie is critical of the funding, saying the government is wasting taxpayers' money as it talks about the need for fiscal restraint.

NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald also questioned the expenditure at a time when the government says it can only afford to fund core services.

The Ivany report was produced by a panel on economic development led by Acadia University president Ray Ivany.

The panel's report says the province is headed for an extended period of economic decline unless population and economic trends are reversed.