Nova Sco­tia boasts of im­mi­gra­tion jump

But prov­ince still short of goals


Nova Sco­tia is trum­pet­ing a sig­nif­i­cant jump in im­mi­gra­tion thanks to an in­flux of refugees, but one busi­ness ad­vo­cate says it’s still fall­ing short of what’s needed.

The prov­ince’s Im­mi­gra­tion Depart­ment says pre­lim­i­nary fig­ures for last year to the end of Oc­to­ber show 4,835 new­com­ers — in­clud­ing about 1,500 refugees — ar­rived in Nova Sco­tia, say­ing it’s the high­est num­ber in decades.

The to­tal in­cluded an in­flux of Syr­ian refugees, along with provin­cially nom­i­nated fam­i­lies and en­trepreneurs.

The prov­ince says it is also ex­pect­ing an­other 2,150 peo­ple un­der the provin­cial nom­i­na­tion pro­gram this year, but it doesn’t in­di­cate how many more refugees may ar­rive.

How­ever, Don Mills, a poll­ster who has sup­ported a busi­ness push to in­crease im­mi­gra­tion in the prov­ince, said he sees the fig­ure as an im­prove­ment that is still short of what the prov­ince needs to re­place an aging work­force, and notes the boom in refugees may de­crease.

“We’re go­ing on in the right di­rec­tion,’’ he said in an in­ter­view. “But we have to ramp it up even quicker.’’

“There con­tin­ues to be a sense that we are equally or more di­verse than the rest of the coun­try, when in fact that’s far from the truth,’’ said Mills, who has polled At­lantic Cana­dian at­ti­tudes on im­mi­gra­tion.

The poll­ster notes that ac­cord­ing to the last cen­sus only about five per cent of At­lantic Cana­di­ans were born in an­other coun­try, while in the rest of the coun­try it’s ap­prox­i­mately 22 per cent.

“We are the least di­verse pop­u­la­tion by a mile,’’ he says.

The Ivany Re­port, an eco­nomic blue­print for the prov­ince, urged the prov­ince to in­crease im­mi­gra­tion due to a de­clin­ing birth rate and out mi­gra­tion.

It has pre­dicted that within 15 years there will be 100,000 fewer peo­ple of work­ing age in the prov­ince, and Nova Sco­tia can­not count on its nat­u­ral birth rate to re­place the work­force.

The re­port urged the prov­ince to at­tempt to at­tract up to 7,000 im­mi­grants a year by 2024 and to em­brace a greater eth­nic and ra­cial di­ver­sity in the makeup of the new­com­ers.

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