Immigration Minister Sean Fraser and provincial leaders announced the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) will become a permanent program starting January 1. The name will be changed to the Atlantic Immigration Program.
The program will allow for 6,000 newcomers to come to Atlantic Canada per year.
Fraser, who is from Nova Scotia, was joined by fellow Liberal member of parliament Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who is the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, as well as provincial leaders from the other Atlantic provinces.
Fraser said since the AIP was launched in 2017, it has brought nearly 10,000 newcomers to the provinces. Participating employers have made over 9,800 job offers in key sectors, including health care, accommodations, food services and manufacturing. After one year, more than 90% of newcomers on the AIP were still living in Canada, which is much higher than other immigration programs in the region.
The news comes shortly after Nova Scotia announced its population grew to one million. In the first quarter of 2021, 5,696 people moved to Nova Scotia from other countries and other parts of Canada, and the province’s population grew by 2,877, which is the largest increase in a first quarter since 1971. The province also has an immigrant retention rate of 71%, the highest in Atlantic Canada.
The pilot will officially close on December 31, but Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will still accept applications under the pilot from those with a valid provincial endorsement until March 5, 2022.
Atlantic Canada has one of the oldest populations in the country. A large sum of the workers in these provinces are retiring, and few new workers are coming in.
While this is a problem throughout the country, it is especially pronounced in the four east-coast provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
The demographic challenges of having an old population has long been a case in support of economic immigration in Canada. However, despite the success of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), created in 1998 to address the regional labour market and demographic needs, Atlantic Canada has struggled to retain immigrants.
Enter the AIP. It was launched in 2017, and has already begun to show early signs of success according to an IRCC report from the winter. The report suggests that the AIP is improving retention rates in the region.
Through the AIP, immigrants come to Atlantic Canada with a job and a settlement plan from a designated service provider. These elements address the reasons why many immigrants tend to leave the region, due to lack of job opportunities. Those who stay, oftentimes do so because of family or friends in the area.
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