Politics

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program sees increase in popularity

Since program began 1,073 people have been endorsed to come to Nova Scotia

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is picking up traction, with more skilled workers immigrating to Nova Scotia.

Tracey Taweel, CEO of the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, gave a presentation discussing these changes to the legislature’s human resources committee on Tuesday. Specifically, she said, the numbers rose from 600 to 1,350 in a few years.

“The federal government was responsive to the region as a whole and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, giving us further space to continue to grow our immigration numbers,” she said.

Taweel said the program, which was launched in March 2017, is designed to meet labour market needs and help employers fill gaps. It is also supposed to help newcomers get settled into their communities.

The program’s goal is to attract skilled and highly educated people to the province. To qualify, applicants need to have a job offer from a designated employer.

Since the start of the program, 737 Nova Scotia employers have been designated to offer jobs and 1,073 people have been endorsed to come to Canada and work for those employers.

There’s an emphasis on targeting international students, but anyone with sufficient language skills and education can be nominated.

Over 15,000 new immigrants have been welcomed to the province since AIP began. The top countries with applicants being nominated were India, China, the Philippines, Nigeria and the U.K.

“Rather than casting a wide net, we’ve targeted our reach,” said Taweel.

Leaving Nova Scotia

The success of the AIP relies heavily on immigrant retention. Currently, about 71 per cent of immigrants stay in the province.

Alana Paon, PC MLA for Cape Breton and Richmond, asked about the 30 per cent who left. Taweel said the reason why immigrants leave can be nuanced and complex, but a research study is underway and she expects to know more later this year.

“We need to wrap our arms around them and not let them go until they are ready to settle in Nova Scotia,” she said.