April 19, 2017 – A leading business figure has outlined how important Nova Scotia immigration is to the future of the province.
Patrick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, believes the best way to ensure continued growth and prosperity is through welcoming newcomers.
He pointed to 2016 setting a post-war record for new immigrants in Nova Scotia, and urged the province to build on the momentum.
“We want people to come to Nova Scotia for more than a vacation,” Sullivan said in an article for the Chronical Herald.
“We want them to make it their home.
He added: “One of the best ways to achieve this is through continued growth in immigration.”
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Sullivan accepts the province has ‘a long way to go’ in achieving the kind of population growth and immigrant integration that will allow the province to thrive.
But he certainly feels that with projects such as the newly-launched Atlantic Immigration Pilot, there has been a recent significant move in the right direction.
“Last year, Nova Scotia had the largest growth in new Nova Scotians since World War II,” Sullivan said.
“We can’t lose that momentum, especially at a time when the tendency toward protectionist and exclusive interests seems to be on the rise.”
Nova Scotia is one of the Atlantic provinces successfully battling its aging demographic.
Source: Statistics Canada
Population figures show numbers aged under 45 increased in 2016 for the first time in at least five years.
Previously it appeared as though the region would have less under-45s than over-45s by 2016, but the trend has been slowed thanks to innovative immigration policies.
Sullivan believes the people already in the province can reap the benefits of Nova Scotia immigration.
But only if new immigrants are made welcomed and given the help they need to integrate into society.
“Our federal government has been clear that inclusivity is indeed the key, and is backing immigration and innovation as an investment in our economic prosperity,” Sullivan said.
“At the Chamber, we firmly believe that embracing immigration is an important investment in ourselves and our province.
“We need immigrants to build a sustainable workforce and to create a richer, more diverse living experience for all Nova Scotians.”
“Initiatives like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot are wonderful opportunities to bring more people to our region.”
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot was launched in March 2017 and aims to welcome a combined 2,000 extra immigrants to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Some 200 employers have already expressed interest, with 50 formally signed up.
- Nova Scotia immigration
- Newfoundland immigration
- New Brunswick immigration
- Prince Edward Island immigration
The employer-led pilot aims to give new immigrants also help to establish and integrate as a central part of the federal Canada immigration program.
It was launched in response to problems retaining immigrants in the Atlantic region, which struggles with an aging population.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot has immigration programs for intermediate and high-skilled workers, plus international graduates.
Sullivan says such programs can only do so much in terms of integrating new Nova Scotians.
“Now, it is up to all of us to truly welcome them, and provide them with the resources and, most importantly, the jobs they need to stay here and build happy, successful lives for them and their families,” he said.
Immigrant Retention Problem
Making immigrants stay in the more rural provinces is not a new problem for Canada, so to solve it some innovative thinking is needed.
There needs to be joined-up thinking at all levels of government to make it happen.
Provincial policy makers need to create the right conditions and use many measures to make immigrants choose to stay.
Some possible moves include:
- Short term provincial tax credits.
- Below market prices for land in rural areas.
- Conditional tax breaks.
Given the need to use immigration as a tool to meet growing demographic needs, policy makers must use the carrot approach.
The immigration tools are in place. They just need to be complemented with input from a much wider range of stakeholders to create the right conditions for immigrants to remain by choice.
This will go a long way to ensuring the success of Canada’s immigration plan.
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