Nova Scotia’s immigration strategy on track but retention needs work, AG says
Auditor general suggests clearer documentation on funding allocation and labour market needs
November 10, 2022, 12:09 pm ASTLast Updated: November 10, 2022, 1:13 pm
Auditor General Kim Adair says the province is succeeding in getting newcomers to Nova Scotia but needs to work further on keeping them here.
On Tuesday, the office of the auditor general released its report on immigration and population growth in Nova Scotia.
“A lot of our audit testing found that the processes were working,” Adair said in a statement. “The 15 recommendations will further enhance the work of the branch, and equip them for the much higher growth targets that are anticipated.”
The province surpassed its population goal of one million in late 2021 with ease, thanks to an influx in immigration, according to Statistics Canada.
“Doubling the provincial population by 2060 will put added pressure on the province’s immigration programs,” Adair said at a news conference Tuesday. “Feedback from immigrants in these areas could be valuable when determining where future funding should be targeted.”
The auditor general’s team looked at the tax filings of immigrants who have filed taxes in Nova Scotia six years after arrival and found a retention rate of 70 per cent. That rate will need to be boosted to 75 per cent for the province to meet its population growth, the report said.
The report offered 15 recommendations, including clearer documentation on funding allocation and labour market needs.
What do newcomers need?
“At the time of our audit,” Adair said at the news conference, “the government was spending in the range of 6.4 million a year to support new immigrants without a strong understanding of their settlement needs or whether the funding was achieving the objective of retaining immigrants.”
Between 2020 and 2022, 18 organizations that assist with the settlement of immigrants in Nova Scotia received funding from the Department of Immigration and Population Growth. Of a total of $12.8 million, two of the organizations, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and YMCA Greater Halifax/Dartmouth, received 76 per cent of the funding.
Adair questioned how the funding is allocated. The report asks for clarity in how funding allocation is determined and a follow-up on the performance of organizations that receive funding.
Making immigrants feel welcome
The province accepted every recommendation from the report.
Jennifer L’Esperance, senior executive director of the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, said the department is in the final stages of a two-phase review. It’s focused on “understanding the profile of newcomers in Nova Scotia today” and how to support them, she said at a news conference.
Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser said all Nova Scotians are responsible for making immigrants feel welcome.
“If you know that there is a new family in the area, it’s making sure that you’re wrapping your arms around them and making them feel welcome,” Balser said at the news conference.
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