The Nova Scotia Office of Immigration is boasting record immigration numbers to the province, with many skilled workers, entrepreneurs, refugees, and family member of Canadian citizens and permanent residents having made a new home in the province. Overall, preliminary figures for last year to the end of October reveal that 4,835 newcomers arrived in Nova Scotia, the highest intake in decades.
In 2015, 3,403 people settled in Nova Scotia as permanent residents. That year's intake was, until 2016, the highest level for more than 10 years.
Much of the year-on-year increase can be attributed to the federal government's policy of welcoming tens of thousands of Syrian refugees through the early months of 2016. Around 1,500 of these newcomers were resettled in Nova Scotia throughout the year.
In March, 2016, it was revealed that the government of Nova Scotia had successfully lobbied for an increase in the allocation for the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP), one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). These immigration programs allow Canadian provinces to select newcomers based on criteria set by the province. This was the second time in just a few months that Nova Scotia had its PNP allocation increased.
More newcomers expected
The province says that it expects another 2,150 people to arrive under the NSNP this year, but it doesn't indicate how many more refugees may arrive.
In addition to the NSNP, a new program may also help Nova Scotia bring in more workers and graduates. The recently-unveiled Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is a joint venture between the Atlantic Provinces, with New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland joining Nova Scotia in creating an exciting new employer-driven program, through which the federal government is targeting 2,000 new arrivals this year.
Nova Scotia also continues to attract a portion of new immigrants who apply through a federal program, such as the programs processed through the Express Entry selection system.
There is a push to ratchet up immigration levels even further. Don Mills, a polling expert, said that the province is still short of what it needs to counter demographic trends, including an aging workforce.
"We're going on in the right direction . . . But we have to ramp it up even quicker," said Mills in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"There continues to be a sense that we are equally or more diverse than the rest of the country, when in fact that's far from the truth."
The Ivan Report, an economic blueprint for the province, urged the province to increase immigration due to a declining birth rate and outmigration. The report predicted that within 15 years there will be 100,000 fewer people of working age in Nova Scotia, and the province cannot count on its natural birth rate to replace the workforce.
The report urged the province to attempt to attract up to 7,000 immigrants a year by 2024, and to embrace a greater ethnic and racial diversity in the makeup of the newcomers.
Nova Scotia quick facts:
Capital and largest city:
Population: Approximately 946,000 (January, 2016)
Main language: English
Climate: Continental, moderated by the ocean. Warm summers and milder winters than most regions of Canada.