The maritime provinces of Canada namely Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have recently been witnessing the fastest population growth in decades, with immigration being the major driving force, according to a report released by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC). Maritime provinces have been the key focus in Canada’s efforts to attract and retain skilled foreign workers and their families in the past few years. Immigration is considered to be the key solution for the population and labour force declines faced by these provinces, caused by migration to other provinces, low fertility rates, and aging population.
Population growth in maritime provinces of Canada
According to the APEC report, among the provinces of Canada, Prince Edward Island experienced an incredible population growth rate of two per cent year-over-year since 2016. Immigration was the key contributor to this growth, as the province recorded the largest number of new immigrants in Canada in 2016-2018, relative to the size of its population.
The average growth rate of Nova Scotia during the same period was 0.8 per cent, which is the fastest since the mid-1980s, according to the APEC report. At the same time, the average annual growth rate of New Brunswick was 0.5 per cent, the highest since the early 1990s. The only Atlantic province of Canada that reported a negative growth rate is New Foundland and Labrador, as the population decreased by 0.2 per cent per year.
Role of PNPs in population growth
The APEC report says that 22,000 newcomers came to the Atlantic provinces of Canada through Provincial Nominee Programs between 2016 and 2018. It has made Provincial Nominee Programs the biggest source of new immigrants. Provincial nominee programs allow Canadian provinces to nominate certain number of economic immigration candidates each year for permanent residence in Canada.
Besides the PNPs, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot launched two years ago brought another 1600 new immigrants to the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Under the program, employers in the Atlantic provinces of Canada can hire foreign workers to fill the jobs that they are unable to fill locally.
APEC report further states that it is impossible to predict whether the population growth rate of maritime provinces of Canada can be sustained in the future.
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