January 3, 2019 – Nova Scotia’s population grew by 2.8 percent between 2015 and 2018, the highest jump in the province’s population in the past 25 years. As of October 2018, the province’s population touched a record high of 964,693 residents.
According to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia has added 26,373 residents since 2015, with more than 10,000 new residents added in the past year alone.
In 2017-18, the province’s population grew by 1.08 percent, compared to the national average of 1.4 percent. This marks the first instance in more than two decades where province has kept pace with the national average.
Inability to boost its population and retain new arrivals were primary reasons behind the province’s economic underperformance over the past 25 years.
Immigration—Key to Nova Scotia’s Resurgence
Key to this revival has been Nova Scotia’s immigration strategy focusing on not just attracting new immigrants but also on improving retention levels.
Between January and October 2018, immigration into Nova Scotia surged by 36 percent as compared to the same period in 2017. More importantly, immigrant retention levels in the province too has risen up to the national average.
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The province has aggressively targeted newcomers through combination of measures like new programs targeting those with in-demand skills combined with better implementation of existing options like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program.
Further, provincial immigration authorities have focused on improved recruitment efforts through official participation in international recruitment events and organization of 150 recruitment events within the province.
Widespread Economic Boom
In further evidence of population growth’s impact on the province’s economy, issue of building permits and volume of industrial real estate investment has surged in recent years.
From just 96 in 2011, number of building permits issued by the Halifax municipality for new residential units in the city rose 983 percent to 1,040 in 2017.
From just $26 million in 2017, industrial real estate investment in Halifax rose nearly tenfold in 2018 to $215 million.
The city’s tech talent pool has grown by 28 percent and added 2,500 ten jobs over the past five years.
The surge in economic activity is not restricted solely to urban centers. Immigrants, especially from Egypt, Israel, and the Philippines prefer small well-knit communities compared to big cities.
Another Atlantic Province Success Story
While Nova Scotia has put up a good show, another Atlantic province—Prince Edward Island—is hitting growth numbers far higher than all other Canadian provinces.
Between 2015 and 2018, P.E. I’s population has grown by close to seven percent and provincial unemployment has fallen to 7.2 percent, the lowest figure in the past four decades.
The combination of a growing population, again attributable primarily to immigration, and effective utilization of new talent has boosted the province’s economic growth closer to the national average.
For a province that has, like Nova Scotia, languished economically for decades, this impressive turnaround is completely unprecedented. This success will likely fuel future policy considerations by government across the immigration spectrum in the years ahead.
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