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More Immigrants Needed in Atlantic Canada for a Prosperous Future

September 2017, 26
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Atlantic Canada is home to the oldest population in the country. The workforce here is expected to decline, at a great rate, between 2017 and 2035 owing to the retirement of baby boomers.  Conference Board Canada has stated in a report that in order to improve the economic outlook and population growth of the region Atlantic Canada should attract and retain more immigrants.

Kareem El-Assal, a Senior Research Associate, in the Conference Board of Canada, has said that a small labour force, and a population that ages rapidly, has harmful consequences, like weak economic growth, hurdles for provincial governments, in covering social services, reduced impact of rural communities, and a weak position of the region at the federal level". "Immigration solely, is not in a position, to provide a remedy, for the demographic challenges of Atlantic Canada; but it plays an important role in the strategy to enhance the economic standing of the region.”

At present, an aging population, low birth rate, and out-migration have led to weak population and less labor force, which impacts on the economic growth of Atlantic Canada. Simultaneously, there is an increase in the health care costs owing to the aging population.

In 2016, the national average of population aged 65 and above was 16.5% but for Atlantic Canada, it was 19.5%. Number of Deaths exceeded Number of births in the Atlantic Provinces. There is a migration owing to advanced unemployment and low business investment. 

At present, the Atlantic Provinces spend more per capita, on health care compared to the national average. Labrador and Newfoundland are the highest spenders in the country.

The region also sees fewer immigrants, and least newcomer arrivals, amongst the provinces of Canada. The high unemployment rates and a tiny immigrant population make it unappealing for newcomers, in comparison to other parts of the country. As per the 2011 Census, Nova Scotia had the major portion of the immigrant population, at 5.3% whereas the national proportion was 20.6%.

Still, the Atlantic Canada demonstrates sufficient strength making it attractive for prospective immigrants. The immigrant unemployment rates and wage gaps are low in the region, and the wages paid are good. Immigrants of the region earn far more than those who have decided to leave.

The immigration levels are insufficient, to compensate for the number of baby boomers who will retire. For better results, the region must ensure that immigrants (and their spouses) get jobs in their chosen domains, and the worries and concerns of the international students, are addressed. Clearly, there is a need to welcome communities and develop them. 

The report titled Immigration to Atlantic Canada: Toward A Prosperous Future, outlines the four areas where measures for immigration have to be adopted to boost immigration:

  • Raising awareness in public/employers about benefits of immigration to the region;
  • Promoting living in the region to prospective immigrants highlighting the reasons for settling here;
  • Welcoming immigrants who can stay here;
  • Prioritizing the challenges of temporary residents and ensuring their transition to PR 
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