- A pilot program that began in 2017 will be made permanent in the new year, boosting the federal government’s efforts to attract more immigrants to Atlantic Canada.
The federal government’s push to attract more immigrants to Atlantic Canada will get a boost in the new year when a pilot program launched in 2017 is made permanent, according to federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
Fraser announced that the newly renamed Atlantic Immigration Program would offer 6,000 dedicated spots starting Jan. 1, with the allocation between the four Atlantic provinces to be determined later.
The program’s permanent implementation comes at a good time, he said, as the economy struggles to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“With labor shortages at the forefront of our minds as we seek to exit this pandemic recession,” Fraser told reporters, “it will help businesses attract the skilled newcomers they require.”
The pilot program, which began in 2017, allows province-designated employers to make job offers to immigration applicants to help fill vacancies in industries such as health care, lodging, food services, and manufacturing. Candidates who are accepted into the program receive permanent residency in Canada.
According to the minister, there is a growing acceptance of the need for more immigrants both nationally and in the Atlantic region, attempting to reverse demographic trends such as an aging population.
“I’ve seen a significant shift in attitudes toward newcomers in Atlantic Canada,” Fraser said.
The new program is important when demand for healthcare services is growing across the region, according to Jason Shannon, president and CEO of Shannex, which operates long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Ontario.
Shannon told reporters, “This increase in demand for healthcare workers.” He claimed that the program helped his company recruit 160 workers, many of whom settled in small towns like Debert, N.S., and Miramichi, N.B.
While they wait for their Canadian credentials to become registered nurses or licensed practical nurses, he said many of the internationally educated nurses Shannex recruited worked as certified personal care workers.
Since its inception, the program has brought over 10,000 newcomers to the Atlantic region, resulting in 9,800 job offers, according to Fraser. According to him, the program has successfully retained applicants, with 90% opting to stay in the Atlantic region one year after arriving in Canada.
According to a 2020 evaluation conducted by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, that number drops to around 78 percent in the second year.
Despite this, Fraser claims that the program has a higher retention rate than other Atlantic region economic programs.
According to Statistics Canada, Premier Tim Houston of Nova Scotia, whose province recently passed the one-million-person mark, said the program will help his province reach its goal of two million residents by 2060.
“In the last 5 years, Nova Scotia has grown five times faster than it had in the previous 25 years,” Houston said. “We need to keep building on this momentum.”
According to the province, since 2017, the program has brought 4,485 people to Nova Scotia.
Source: Global News
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