The question most often asked when talking about attracting newcomers to New Brunswick is “why do we need skilled immigrants?” It’s a fair question and is at the foundation of our province’s future.
New Brunswick is facing an unprecedented challenge of a shrinking workforce. Three factors have contributed to the problem:
- Our population is aging and among the oldest populations in Canada – the pool of people who are of a “typical working age” is drying up.
- Deaths are outnumbering births – we don’t have as many youth being born and progressing through the education system.
- There is high outmigration of our youth – while there are fewer youth coming out of our education system; many of those who are growing up in the province, leave.
Studies show that skilled immigrant workers are the quickest and most impactful way to move the needle on our population.
It is anticipated that over the next nine years, approximately 90,000 people will leave the workforce creating thousands of job openings. Only about 2/3 of those job openings could be filled with people who are already here in New Brunswick. This means that we will have to fill 1/3 of these job opportunities with people from outside of New Brunswick.
Our first priority is to train New Brunswickers for the skills needed to fill these opportunities. We’re also working hard to convince our young people who’ve left to come back to New Brunswick. While these remain top priorities, it’s still not enough to meet the needs.
This is where the need for skilled immigrants becomes so important to the province and all of our citizens.
To help demystify some of the jargon, here are a few key terms that may help you understand what everyone is talking about.
- “Refugees” – It’s important not to confuse skilled immigrants with refugees. A refugee is someone forced to flee their country of origin because they were persecuted for reasons of race, religion, or membership of a particular social group. Canadians welcome refugees as a humanitarian act.
- “Economic Immigrant” or “Skilled Immigrant” – An economic immigrant is someone (of any origin) pursuing long-term residence or citizenship in another country through a strategic recruitment program. This is the case in New Brunswick where we have the need for skilled workers from other countries. It’s important to note that economic immigrants are nominated to come to the province because they already have the education, skills and language capacity needed to succeed here.
- “Newcomer” – A newcomer is considered an immigrant who has been in Canada for a short period of time; usually less than 5 years.
We are working to ensure economic immigrants live, work and stay in New Brunswick. Some key factors to retention are:
- Attachment to the Labour Force – We are maximizing all immigration pathways in NB, including a new employer-driven pathway that increases the number of immigrants coming to New Brunswick who have secured jobs already.
- Language – The minimum language requirements have been increased in many of the immigration programs.
- Welcoming Communities – Newcomers are uprooting their lives and moving to a new place to live and work. By offering a helping hand or a friendly smile, it helps make their transition smoother and allows them to feel welcome and comfortable in their new community.
Starting points towards building a welcoming community:
- Say hello!
- Be patient
- Help a new member of the community find their way around
- Pass along an invite to dinner or a community event
- Participate in local cultural activities
- Visit a new business that a newcomer has opened
There are so many reasons why welcoming new New Brunswickers is vital to our province’s long-term success. By learning the facts, it’s very easy to see that skilled immigrants bring opportunities to our communities. By welcoming them, we can help our communities become stronger and more prosperous. Our businesses will also have an opportunity to grow and new businesses will be started. It’s a win-win opportunity worth exploring.
Old friends start as new neighbours
Benefits of Welcoming Skilled Immigrants to NB
Sustaining Population – New Brunswick’s population of people in their prime working years (25–44) is decreasing, leaving fewer people in the workforce. In some areas of New Brunswick, the population of older adults (55 years and over) will substantially increase over the next 20 years while the population of children and youth is projected to decline.
Workforce Development – Internationally trained newcomers bring with them experience and expertise that cannot always be found locally. In New Brunswick, we need skilled workers to fill vacant positions in the information technology, transportation and fishing industries, as well as in business service centres. Older adults will depend on people of working age to support social security and pensions. It is important to continue to attract people in their prime working years so we can maintain and grow the industry sectors that support the local economy.
Economic Development – Business immigrants are those who invest money in an approved venture, intend to run their own business, or intend to be self-employed.
Supporting the Local Economy – Newcomers are consumers, eager to support the local economy. Demand for local goods and services contribute to the economic prosperity of each community.
Social and Cultural Benefits – Cultural festivities, new languages and holiday traditions contribute to the life and character of communities. Cultural diversity creates a welcoming and vibrant place for everyone to live.
Links to additional resources:
Cultural competency training – Creative Inclusive Workplaces and Communities
Immigrant settlement agencies in NB – links (13)