The provincial government has nominated a record number of immigrants to live in Nova Scotia to help address labour shortages.
The government’s immigration strategy, entitled ‘jobsHere,’ aims to attract international professional and skilled workers, with an emphasis on keeping them in the province.
"We have the potential for 700 families to choose Nova Scotia, to put down roots and to be a part of the province's growing economy," said Marilyn More, minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration.
A press release from the Department of Immigration dated Dec. 31, 2012, noted that the federal government provided an additional 200 immigration nominees on top of the existing cap of 500 to the province, bringing the total to 700.
The jobsHere strategy isn’t just about attracting immigrant skilled labour to Nova Scotia, said Leonard Preyra, minister of Communities Culture and Heritage on behalf of the Minister of Immigration.
“Our strategy includes retraining Nova Scotians here at home to match their skills with the needs of our economy.”
He also says recruiting Nova Scotians who are working elsewhere in Canada to come back home and work is also an important part of the strategy.
“The fact is there is a job shortage in Nova Scotia and the reasons are simple,” said Preyra. “People are having smaller families and we’re dealing with an aging workforce.”
According to Preyra, Nova Scotia has doubled its retention rate for immigrants in recent years by providing them a more realistic look at the province before they arrive and by offering more support for families.
Nanda Shirke, a board member of the Multicultural Association of Pictou County, believes population growth is key to developing communities. “But this growth needs to be supplemented with job opportunities, transit and better access to medical care,” she said. “Currently these require much improvement in Pictou County.”
The minister is confident that some of the incoming immigrants will make their way to Pictou County. “The shipbuilding contract, wind power initiatives and aquaculture are draws to the county.”
Shirke said the Multicultural Association of Pictou County has helped bridge the divide between newcomers and the local people.
“[The county] has challenges such as transit and job opportunities, but the word about the warmth and friendliness of this county is spreading.”