New Brunswick’s government could attract over 7,500 newcomers over the next three years as a result of the policies proposed by the Progressive Conservative Party.
The people of New Brunswick re-elected the Progressive Conservative government on Monday, Sept 14.
During the campaign, the incumbent premier, Blaine Higgs, promised to continue his government’s five-year action plan on population growth.
The New Brunswick’s government had already announced its plan of attracting 7,500 newcomers per year by 2024, which is the maximum normally allowed by the federal government.
“It was fun to see, during the election campaign, that both major political parties were tripping over each other to promise high immigration numbers,” said New Brunswick’s economist Richard Saillant, referring to the Liberal Party’s plan to welcoming 10,000 newcomers per year over the next ten years.
The Progressive Conservative Party said its goal is to welcome about 10,000 people to the province per year by 2027.
The government wants to increase the flow of francophone immigrants via the Provincial Nominee Program to support the growth of the francophone culture in the province. The party’s platform sets a plan that would allow francophone immigrants to make up thirty-three per cent of the population by 2024.
This plan, which would reflect the proportion of french speakers in New Brunswick’s population, was supposed to be attained this year, but has been postponed and is now set start again.
Higgs says the key to increasing the population is drawing families to the province while also encouraging them to settle permanently. In its platform, the party set a retention rate target of Seventy-five per cent for the next five years.
Another of the party’s goals is to work with professional associations and institutions of higher learning to attract professionals, international students, skilled workers, and keep young people in the province.
The party also said it would continue investing in experiential learning initiatives, such as FutureNB, which has already assisted more than one thousand students to connect with 240 employers.
New Brunswick is facing labour shortages due to the lack of highly skilled workers. According to government projections, about 120,000 jobs will be vacant over the next ten years.
The low birth rate, the increase of the elderly population, and the rate of youth migration from the province have created a severe shortage of skilled workers in the province.
To increase its population, the province plans to continue to depend on immigrants, as newcomer populations have helped the province see the longest period of sustained economic growth since the 1990s.
The immigration of large numbers of people to the province will lead to population growth and help meet labour market needs.
During his election campaign, Higgs said New Brunswick’s population soared by more than 4,000 people last year and that this growth was exclusively due to immigration activities. Statistics Canada estimates the province’s population at about 780,900.
The Premier had also stated in January that the New Brunswick’s government would open offices in India and some parts of Europe to promote immigration to the province. This initiative is aimed at attracting temporary foreign workers and entrepreneurs interested in New Brunswick.
Higgs stated that the government’s business development department, Opportunities New Brunswick, is committed to attracting companies in emerging sectors such as tech, digital health, cybersecurity, and energy innovation in the years to come.