More immigrants are choosing Pictou County as their new home as the province experiences a surge of newcomers from all over the world.
Recent immigrants in Pictou County hail from homelands including Syria, Peru, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cuba and a number of other Caribbean nations, according to the Multicultural Association of Pictou County.
“We are very busy,” said Liya Robertson, who teaches English for the MAPC. “I think we are very friendly, very welcoming.”
Robertson said that many newcomers work at a fish plant near Pictou, but can soon become Canadian permanent residents under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project.
Under the federal pilot program, foreign skilled workers or international students who land a full-time job in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador can apply for permanent residency.
The pilot is a partnership between the four Atlantic Provinces and Ottawa to help businesses attract and retain skilled newcomers to fill labour gaps.
Robertson said that a settlement worker is helping fish plant staff with the immigration process and they will likely receive permanent residency in six months under the pilot.
“People are leaving but people are coming,” said Robertson, who herself immigrated from Russia 15 years ago.
The province says that in 2017, Nova Scotia welcomed more than 4,000 newcomers and resettled its highest number of immigrants ever through the Provincial Nominee Program.
This figure included nearly 200 newcomers and their families who arrived through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.
Another 1,400 immigrants were resettled in Nova Scotia under the government’s provincial nominee program.
The province is also looking abroad to help plug its doctor shortage. The Nova Scotia Office of Immigration joined the Nova Scotia Health Authority at an international job fair in the United Kingdom to help recruit international physicians to work and live in Nova Scotia.
“2017 was another successful year for immigration in Nova Scotia,” said Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab in a release last week. “Helping newcomers immigrate and build lives here in Nova Scotia is a priority for the department and its settlement partners. It is key to growing the province and its economy and I look forward to continuing this work in the New Year.”
2017 also saw a shift in Nova Scotians’ attitudes toward immigration. Surveys indicate most Nova Scotians believe immigrants make Nova Scotia a more interesting place and that immigration is key to growing our province.
Recent research published by the province shows that 85 per cent of Nova Scotians surveyed believe immigration has a positive impact on the province, compared to just 36 per cent in 2016.