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Atlantic Canada Experiencing An Immigration Explosion Over The Last 20 Years

Between 2011 and 2016, Atlantic Canada experienced the lowest population growth in Canada. This was due in part to the region’s low intake of migrants.

Population growth is crucial to enhancing the economic growth that is necessary for maintaining a high living standard in Atlantic Canada. Realizing this, the four Atlantic provinces — Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick — are making serious efforts to welcoming and retaining more newcomers.

These efforts are already yielding fruit as the region has lately enjoyed much-needed population boost thanks to higher immigration levels.

Tracking toward 6.5 per cent of Canada’s immigrant

Atlantic Canada consists of 6.5 per cent of Canada’s population but has struggled to draw its proportionate share of the country’s new immigrants. In the early 2000s, the Atlantic region was only able to welcome one per cent of new immigrants.

This is improving, but, and the region is presently on track to increase its new immigrant share to five (5) per cent in 2019. It is now welcoming more than 14,000 immigrants annually compared with only 3,000 two decades ago.

This growth should be celebrated, but more work remains. With the exception of Prince Edward Island, the other three Atlantic provinces still fall behind in the national per capita newcomer intake.

Nevertheless, the present trends suggest the region could welcome its proportionate share of Canada’s immigrants sometime in the 2020s.

Atlantic Canada
Chart 1: Immigrant arrivals by Atlantic Province (L) and as a percentage share of total immigration to Canada (R), 1999 to 2019.

AIP & PNP have fueled immigration growth

Just like in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Atlantic Canada has depended on the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) to fuel its rising immigration level.

The PNP was introduced in 1999 to help smaller provinces and territories draw more newcomers. New Brunswick was the first province in Canada’s Atlantic region to use the PNP immigration system, doing so the same year it was introduced and Newfoundland and Labrador province followed shortly after. Nova Scotia and PEI were the next to join, in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

In 2017, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) was launched to give the region an additional tool for attracting more economic class immigrants. Since then, over 4,000 immigrants have gained permanent residence through the AIP.

Newfoundland and Labrador: PNP AIP account for 80% of newcomer arrivals in 2019

Newfoundland and Labrador province have already attracted more newcomers under the AIP this year than in 2018. Combined with the PNP, the province is on track this year to “substantially” exceed the immigration target that it had set for 2022.

Both the PNP and AIP now accounted for the majority of all newcomers arriving in the province. This emphasizes just how crucial the programs are in supporting Newfoundland and Labrador’s efforts to promoting economic development through immigration.

Prince Edward Island: Dip in PNP arrivals being offset by AIP

In recent years, the PNP has account for around Ninety (90) per cent of all newcomers to PEI. The province’s PNP intake declined in 2018 and preliminary 2019 data suggests it won’t bounce back to 2017 levels.

This dip, however, is being modestly offset by the Atlantic immigration Pilot.

The pilot was used to bring 235 newcomers to PEI in the first nine months of 2019, compared with 200 immigrants in all of 2018.

Overall, Canada’s smallest province has the country’s largest population growth rate thanks to it enjoying Canada’s highest per capita intake of immigrants.

Nova Scotia: Set to welcome 6,000 New Immigrants in 2019

Nova Scotia’s AIP intake is increasing, with the province welcoming up to 1,000 immigrants through the program in the first nine months of 2019.

This almost triples the 375 new immigrants that it welcomed through the pilot in all of 2018.

Thanks to its increased PNP and AIP intake, Nova Scotia has established a number of newcomer records in recent years: it exceeded 5,000 immigrants for the first time in 2016, and the AIP helped Nova Scotia reach about 6,000 newcomers in 2018—a threshold it looks set to exceed in 2019.

New Brunswick: more than 5,000 immigrants in 2019?

Presently, New Brunswick is the leading destination for AIP arrivals, welcoming over 1,000 new immigrants through the program in 2019.

The AIP is also helping the province set new immigration records: the province welcomed a record 4,600 new immigration last year and is on track to exceed the 5,000 newcomer barrier in 2019.

The above information tells us the region is in the midst of an immigration explosion with the AIP and PNP paving the way.

In order to thoroughly reverse its immigration fortunes, Atlantic Canada will need to consistently take in more than 20,000 immigrants each year.