Provincial premiers and the federal government have jointly announced 2,000 new places for skilled immigrants in Atlantic Canada in response to calls for caps to be relaxed.
The move will see an almost 50 per cent rise in the number of candidates welcomed to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador as part of the Provincial Nominee Program.
If the three-year pilot program is viewed as a success, numbers could be increased with new immigrants and their families placed based on the populations of the four provinces.
Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
The announcement was made after a meeting on P.E.I. on Monday attended by the four Atlantic premiers (New Brunswick’s Brian Gallant, P.E.I.’s Wade MacLauchlan, Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeiland Dwight Ball of Newfoundland and Labrador).
Federal ministers John McCallum, Lawrence MacAulay, Scott Brison, Navdeep Bains, Dominic LeBlanc and Judy Foote were also present, with Immigration Minister McCallum saying the calls for increased caps had been heard loud and clear at the federal level.
He pointed out that the 2,000 extra places represented almost half the number currently allowed under existing PNP caps.
New Brunswick’s Gallant added that challenging times lay ahead for the Atlantic economy.
“Atlantic Canada faces an aging demographic challenge,” Gallant said.
“It is imperative that we keep our young people here, bring back Atlantic Canadians to the region and increase the amount of new Canadians coming to our four provinces.
“The immigration pilot program will allow more new Canadians to Atlantic Canada, provide more flexibility to the provinces and focus more efforts on retention.”
The new immigrants are expected to be chosen based on the skills required by the respective provinces, with the pilot program launched in 2017.
It is part of a new Atlantic Growth Strategy, aimed at boosting the economy in eastern Canada in five priority areas:
- Skilled workforce and immigration
- Clean growth and climate change
- Trade and investment
Premiers in western Canada made their own call for PNP caps to be lifted in May.
At a two-day conference in Vancouver, the request for limitations to be relaxed was among the key points raised by the premiers of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Alberta’s Rachel Notley was unable to attend because of the Fort McMurray wildfire.
With the Atlantic provinces granted their wish, it seems likely a similar relaxing of caps will be implemented on the opposite side of the country.