Taking note of the demographic decline in the province, the government of Nova Scotia has come up with an action-oriented approach to identify innovative solutions including increasing the province’s attractiveness for immigrants and modifying the skilled worker stream to bring in international workers into the region.
After years of neglect, the Premier Stephen McNeil and his government officials are waking up to the potential benefits that immigration offers for this province. As the first step, the province has decided to go in for an integrated approach towards immigration with improved coordination between the province’s Immigration Settlement and Integration Services and organizations like the YMCA.
The province is seeking to reap the benefits of the Express Entry program that is set to be launched in January 2015. The program, designed to facilitate easier entry of skilled workers into Canada, may help Nova Scotia improve its track record of attracting immigrants and convincing them to continue residing and working in the province.
The Ivany report that suggested solutions for boosting the economy of the province highlighted the risks of relying solely on government efforts, and recommended seeking contributions from the private sector through the Express Entry Scheme.
Conceived as an improved solution to help Canadian employers identifying skilled foreign workers, the Express Entry program is expected to help Nova Scotia attract talent from a large number of foreign countries. While the new program can be very effective if its works as planned, a lot depends on the approach adopted by businesses established in the province.
Even a proactive and bold approach by its private sector may not be enough considering Nova Scotia’s reputation of being a region riddled with problems like high tax rates, low salaries. Further, lack of community infrastructure for social integration of foreign workers and prevalent prejudices against immigrants may complicate matters. These issues may hurt Nova Scotia’s chances of leaving other provinces behind in attracting foreign talent.
An aggressive and direct approach from private businesses in the province can help the economy benefit from the fact that the Express Entry system does not have any cap or limit on inflow of immigrants, which was the biggest drawback of the Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program.
Now that business will find it easier to identify workers with skills and qualifications matching their exact requirements, the province should find more skilled workers interested in residing and, eventually, becoming citizens of the country. The program has been designed to complete the process of identifying and facilitating entry of foreign talent within a period of six months.
The Express Entry system is also expected to free up demand for the Provincial Nominee Program. This is further expected to help businesses enjoy multiple immigration options that hitherto did not exist. Nova Scotia can also benefit from the Business Stream option, which is designed to make it easier for entrepreneurs to setup or acquire businesses in Canada.
The option of flexible and easy acquisition of business may be particularly attractive for Nova Scotia as it may make it easier for aged entrepreneurs to seek retirement by selling their small businesses to young entrepreneurs seeking attractive business prospects in Canada. The government is also expected to relook the harsh tax regime governing sale of businesses in the province.
Outflow of people to other provinces and countries, an aging population, and an economy that is showing no signs of revival and growth are the biggest issues facing Nova Scotia today. The Express Entry system is expected to make a significant impact in solving the issues faced byteh province.