Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Report Calls for Ways to Retain More Immigrants in Atlantic Canada

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Report Calls for Ways to Retain More Immigrants in Atlantic Canada

Article excerpt

Report seeks to retain more immigrants

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FREDERICTON - A new report says if Atlantic Canada wants to solve its economic and demographic problems, it must become more than a stopover for immigrants.

The report entitled "The People Imperative" will be released Wednesday at a one-day summit on immigration and revitalization, being held in Fredericton.

The report is prepared by the Public Policy Forum, an Ottawa-based think tank with ties to business and government.

It says increasing immigration won't work for Atlantic Canada unless people choose to stay. Right now the region has the lowest immigration retention rates in the country.

Nova Scotia has a five-year immigrant retention rate between 2011-2015 of 72 per cent, while Newfoundland and Labrador is at 56 per cent, New Brunswick is at 52 per cent, and P.E.I. is at just 18 per cent.

No province outside Atlantic Canada has a retention rate below 80 per cent.

Atlantic Canada needs to boost immigration and retention if it is to combat the demographic challenge of an aging population.

Frank McKenna, deputy chair of TD Bank group, former premier and Canadian ambassador to the United States, said it's a challenge when you see population numbers dropping in parts of the region.

"We have a time bomb going off in that our population is not just declining, but it's aging as well. On average our population is eight years older than that of Alberta. And that means that we face higher health care costs per capita," he said.

McKenna said more must be done to attract and retain immigrants, and that includes providing more services such as language training, and getting more employers involved.

He's quick to concede the difficulty when immigrants are being attracted to larger centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver that have a larger critical mass.

"Not surprisingly they want to be with their fellow citizens in terms of the food they eat, the God they worship, the culture they respect, and we don't have a lot of those tracks laid down," he said. …

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