Immigration is helping drive the fastest population growth in decades in Canada’s three Maritime Provinces – Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, says a new report by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC).
These three provinces have been the focus of rigorous efforts to attract and retain skilled foreign workers and their families in recent years.
Immigration is considered as key to reversing population and labour force declines caused by migration to other provinces and their older populations.
The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) report further reads, “This emphasis on immigration has combined with a drop in the number of residents leaving the region for work opportunities elsewhere in Canada to spark population growth rates in the Maritime Provinces unseen since at least 1991”.
Prince Edward Island (PEI) has experienced an “incredible” population growth rate of two per cent per year since 2016. The report said net international immigration was “the biggest contributor” to these results in PEI, “with the province recording the largest number of new immigrants in Canada in 2016-2018, relative to the size of its population.”
The province of Nova Scotia posted an average growth rate of 0.8 per cent during the same time-period, which is its fastest since the mid-1980s while the province of New Brunswick averaged an annual growth rate of 0.5 per cent – it’s highest since the early 1990s.
The only province in Atlantic Canada to register a negative growth rate was Newfoundland and Labrador with its population decreasing by 0.2 per cent per year.
Immigration Programs ‘biggest source’ of newcomers
According to the APEC report, immigration program primarily provincial nominee programs (PNPs) and The Atlantic Immigration Pilot were the biggest source of newcomers in Canada’s Atlantic Provinces. Provincial nominee programs brought around 22,000 newcomers to the region between 2016 and 2018, making them “the biggest source of new immigrants.”
On the other side, The Atlantic Immigration Pilot, a federal-provincial initiative launched in late 2017 to attract international workers to the region, has brought in an additional 1,600 new immigrants since its introduction, APEC said.
The pilot offers a fast-track to Canadian permanent residence for foreign workers hired by employers in the Atlantic Canada region for jobs that they haven’t been able to fill locally.