Atlantic Canada has entered into critical phase for tackling skilled workforce shortage with the baby boomer generation already beginning to retire. The region’s workforce is set to decrease sharply if nothing is done to halt the slide over the next 10 years.
According to a new report by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, the Maritimes’ labour force has declined by 30,700 between 2012 and 2018 mainly because of retiring baby boomers.
The Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have a significantly older population than the rest of Canada.
The region’s unemployment rate has also declined to a record low giving rise to increasing number of employers struggling to find workers.
AIPP as a solution
Even though immigration has surged in the Maritimes in recent years, the report suggested that the provinces have trouble retaining immigrants. The retention rates between 2011 and 2016 ranged from 16 per cent in Prince Edward Island to six per cent in Nova Scotia, which is quite lower than the 90 per cent average in Ontario and B.C.
However, the challenge is not just to attract new immigrants to the Atlantic Canada, but also to retain them. The region is also experiencing a high out-migration rate than other Canadian provinces besides struggling with a low birth rate.
There is no denying the fact that Immigrants are needed to spur economic growth of the region. Although the four provinces have started to attract more immigrants, but at the present times, the numbers remain far short of the level needed to compensate for those exiting the workforce.
There are a number of key areas the provinces have to work on such as helping skilled migrants and their spouses find suitable jobs, eradicating barriers to international student employment, and developing welcoming communities.
A key immigration tool developed by the Canadian federal government in partnership with the four Atlantic Provinces is the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP), which aims to attract 2,000 extra immigrants per year to the region above existing quotas.
Launched in 2017 for an initial three-year run, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) was formed to deal with the growing labour shortages in the Atlantic Canadian provinces
According to statistics released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a total of 1,896 employers in the Atlantic Canada region have made 3,729 job offers through the AIPP since its establishment while a total of 2,535 principal applicants and their families have been approved for permanent residence under the same.
The tremendous success and increasing demand for the AIPP last year has made Canada federal government to not only extend this program till December 2021 but increase its annual target of new admissions to Canada through the pilot by 500 spaces.