The province’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, Al Hawkins, attributed the 25 per cent increase in applications this year to the province’s five-year immigration action plan, which aims to increase the number of newcomers to Newfoundland and Labrador to 1,700 annually by 2022.
Ensuring that those immigrants want to stay and build their futures in Newfoundland and Labrador was the focus of this week’s third Minister’s Roundtable on Immigration hosted by Hawkins.
Launched earlier this year, the initiative brings together government, business, labour, municipal governments, community organizations and service providers to chart the way forward for Newfoundland’s immigration action plan.
A central focus of the roundtables is developing new ways to attract and retain skilled immigrants and their families.
“The input we received will inform our planning as we identify priority actions to help retain newcomers, strengthen our communities and grow the economy,” Hawkins said October 25 in a statement to the province’s legislature.
Immigration is crucial to addressing the province’s declining working-age population, which could leave Newfoundland around 35,000 workers short by 2025.
It also fits with efforts to grow the province’s tech sector and other industries in order to diversify the provincial economy, which currently relies heavily on the exploitation of offshore oil and gas reserves.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Provincial Nominee Program, the NLPNP, has three immigration streams for skilled foreign workers and international graduates of Canadian educational institutions, including one that is linked to the federal Express Entry system.
In July, the province also announced the creation of two new immigration streams for entrepreneurs, which should open to candidates in the near future.
Newfoundland and Labrador also participates in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP), a joint federal-provincial venture that helps designated employers in Atlantic Canada’s four provinces connect with eligible foreign workers and international graduates in order to fill skill gaps and labour shortages in the region.
The AIPP aims to welcome more than 7,000 new permanent residents to Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island by 2020.
Newfoundland and Labrador took the unusual step in September of publishing the list of employers in the province who are designated under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and encouraged foreign nationals to contact them.
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