Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Portage sees benefits of Manitoba's immigrant population growth

Portage La Prairie Manitoba CanadaImage via Wikipedia

By Angela Brown, The Daily Graphic

Updated 13 hours ago


While Statistics Canada recently reported that Manitoba has seen a noticeable increase to its population based on an influx of new immigrants, Portage la Prairie appears to be seeing similar growth.
Daniel Bolton, president with  the Portage and District Chamber of Commerce, agrees Portage has seen a boost in its immigrant population.
"The RHA has had quite a lot  of newcomers and immigrants move into Portage, which is great to see," he said.
He said the Portage International Committee (PIC) is also making strides to attract newcomers.
"In working with the PIC, we have seen the Province take a few steps in the right direction in trying to entice immigration and newcomers to Portage," he said.
The benefits of having more newcomers settle here, said Bolton, mean the local economy also sees a boost.
Statistics Canada reports as of Jan. 1, Canada's population was estimated at 34,278,400, and saw an increase of 40,400 (+0.1%) from Oct. 1, 2010.
Demographic growth was the highest on the Prairies. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were reported as having high rates of growth that were above the Canadian average.
Manitoba had the greatest demographic growth in Canada in the fourth quarter. It saw an increase of more than 3,600 (+0.3%).
Specifically, the net international migration (+2,600) was the main factor for the demographic growth in Manitoba. As of Jan. 1, Manitoba's population was estimated at about 1,243,700.
Statistics Canada shows 16,900 more people arrived in Manitoba in 2010. That is the most the province has grown in almost 40 years.
The Province reports 15,805 immigrants came to Manitoba in 2010. That is more than the 13,520 who came in 2009; it represents the largest arrival of immigrant s since 1946.
Luis Luna, co-ordinator of Portage Learning and Literacy Centre's immigrant resource program, said Portage has been successful in attracting many newcomers and he credits the immigrants for coming here with valuable skills needed in the marketplace.
"We haven't seen the increase like Morden and Winkler, but we are having a steady number of immigration happening in Portage la Prairie," he added.
"The last big immigration project was with the RHA Central ...," he said. "They have continued bringing more immigrants into the region."
Mayor Earl Porter also concurs immigration has had a positive impact on Portage.
"We do have quite a few immigrants in here now," said Porter.
He said the Portage International Committee is currently working on its own strategic plan.
PIC members are also looking forward to the upcoming Citizenship ceremony in May to be held in Portage.  
The advantages of having more immigrants are that they help to build the population, said the Mayor.
"The nurses who came to Portage they are getting involved in the community," added Porter. "Some of them are buying houses. It's a boost for the economy."
Porter is pleased to see Manitoba's population see an increase and hopes it might also show a rise in Portage's numbers also.
"We have been sitting at 13,000 people  for so long … it's nice to grow the population a little bit, and increase your tax base."