A new Conference Board of Canada report suggested that Atlantic Canada needed to entice and retain more immigrants in a bid to enhance its population growth and economic prospects of the region, which comprises the four provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador
This region has the oldest population in Canada and it is expected that its workforce will fall steeply until 2035, beginning now, owing to a large number of retiring baby boomers.
Kareem El-Assal, Senior Research Associate, the Conference Board of Canada, was quoted as saying in a press release that a diminished Workforce and ageing population could affect it negatively, leading to weaker economic growth, the decline of rural communities, impeding provincial governments to take care of social services and a feebler voice on the federal level for the region. Though immigration alone is not the panacea for all of Atlantic Canada’s demographic challenges, it is a major step forward in a multifaceted strategy to beef up the economic standing of the region.
In 2016, 19.5 percent of the age of the population of Atlantic Canada was 65 and above as against 16.5 percent for the whole of Canada. In addition, the number of deaths surpasses births in all its provinces. Some parts of the four provinces are witnessing a large number of people exit because of low business investment and high unemployment rates. The region’s population growth is expected to remain flat until 2035.
It is also said that the Atlantic Provinces are spending on a per capita basis more on healthcare than the national average and the expenditure of Newfoundland and Labrador is the highest in Canada.
The Atlantic Canada also houses the tiniest Immigration population in the country and it has seen the least number of migrants arriving among all the Canadian provinces.
As per the 2011 Census, Nova Scotia had the highest proportion of immigrants in this region at 5.3 percent, which is way below than the country’s proportion of 20.6 percent.
The region’s immigration challenge, notwithstanding, Atlantic Canada has many advantages to attract prospective immigrants. Atlantic Canada’s immigrant unemployment rates and wage gaps are low and wages are on par with that of the nation at large. It is also believed that immigrants who settle in the region are inclined to earn more than people who leave.
Although the region is attracting more immigrants and has seen its retention rates improving, current Immigration levels are not adequate to make up for the number of baby boomers who are on verge of retirement. To encourage development, the Atlantic region needs to see to it that immigrants and their spouses find employment in their fields and employment barriers of the International Students are addressed. It is suggested that Atlantic Canada market itself better to prospective immigrants and concentrate its attraction efforts on immigrants groups who would be less likely to leave the region.
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