PR 2019-Oct-18 Tina Comeau 446

IMMIGRATION: The benefits are far-reaching, especially in rural Atlantic Canada

What\'s the issue?
Immigration is important to communities and provincial economies. This is especially true here in Atlantic Canada, as economists, policymakers, and pundits say if this region is going to survive and prosper, immigration is essential.

Jordi Morgan is vice-president (Atlantic) with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

In a SaltWire Network Deep Dive series on immigration earlier this year, Morgan said, “There should also be a keen focus on matching immigrant recruitment to small business needs. While many immigration programs focus on higher-skill, highly-educated immigrants, many small businesses need workers to fill lower-skilled jobs where on-the-job training is provided.”

Who cares most about it and why?
People care about immigration for various reasons. They want to see people given new opportunities. They want to see communities benefit from new businesses. They want to see population numbers grow.

Nova Scotia is an example of how immigration can benefit the Atlantic provinces, which have aging workforces and outmigration of young people.

The province set an immigration record in 2018. A September 2019 release from the province’s Office of Immigration noted Nova Scotia’s population was at an all-time high thanks to the number of immigrants and people from other provinces moving there.

Nova Scotia’s population had grown by 11,895 residents, or 1.24 percent, reaching a high of 971,395 as of July 1, 2019. Over the last year, the office said, 6,393 immigrants had settled in Nova Scotia. This figure, the province said, was the highest dating back to the Second World War.

In rural communities throughout Atlantic Canada, you’ll find grassroots groups who have been sponsoring refugee families or helping to facilitate their arrival and supporting them after they have arrived.

Still, in saying all of the above, not everyone embraces immigration.

How might immigration impact my family and friends?

Many rejoice, and embrace, immigration and refugee success stories. This was evident at the 2019 graduation of Shelburne Regional High School. There, three Syrian brothers – Said, Mohamad, and Ahmad – were part of the graduating class. The Hendawi family had fled to Lebanon after bombs drove them from their Syrian homeland. For years, they attempted to rebuild their fractured lives. Three-and-a-half years ago, the family arrived in Shelburne, N.S. — 8,176 kilometers from Aleppo, Syria. Their new home fully embraced the family, who have been contributing members to the community.

A well-known immigrant success story is Peace by Chocolate. It was bombs and explosions – including ones that destroyed their chocolate factory in Damascus, Syria – that caused the Hadhad family to flee their homeland and head to Lebanon. Following years in a refugee camp and with the support of people in Antigonish, N.S., the family has rebuilt its business, Peace by Chocolate, in Nova Scotia, and distributes products across the country. The company has also created many jobs. Tareq Hadhad, who is CEO, pledged earlier this year to work with 50 refugees and mentor 10 Canadian start-ups run by refugees over the next few years to help them reach further success as well.

When businesses are established and people are employed, the benefits of immigration are far-reaching, especially in rural parts of Atlantic Canada.

What are the party promises around immigration?

• To make sure that communities of all sizes are better able to attract and support new Canadians, the party says it will move forward with a municipal nominee program. This program will allow local communities, chambers of commerce, and local labor councils to directly sponsor permanent immigrants.

• To continue to support greater immigration and economic growth across Atlantic Canada, the party says it will move forward with making the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent. A minimum of 5,000 of the new spaces will be dedicated to each of the Municipal Nominee Program and the Atlantic immigration stream. •

• To make citizenship more affordable, the Liberal party will make the application process free for those who have fulfilled the requirements needed to obtain it.


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