Prince Edward Island (Canada), July 30 : Canada's federal government recently allied with four premiers of Atlantic Canada to introduce a 'New Atlantic Growth Strategy' to boost the region's economy by allowing immigration of new skilled workers, according to media reports in Canada.
The announcement was made at a press conference in St Peters Bay at Prince Edward Island earlier this month. The meeting was attended by the four Atlantic premiers -- Brian Gallant, Premier New Brunswick; Dwight Ball, Premier Newfoundland Labrador; Stephen McNeil, PremierNova Scotia; and Wade MacLauchlan, Premier Prince Edward Island. Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum and Innovation Minister Navdeep Singh Bains were also present in the meeting.
The immigration component will be largely driven by the provincial governments and their specific needs, said Immigration Minister, John McCallum.
We. . .will work with each government to develop a plan specific to their own province with a focus on particular occupations, particular regions and with a focus on engaging companies to not only recruit the immigrants but to undertake measures to keep them here, he said.
According to McCallum, the two levels of government will find ways to confirm that once immigrants arrive, theyll stay in a particular region as it will accelerate credentials for different jobs.
He mentioned that apparently, the program is a pilot project in Atlantic Canada. However, it could be the model for the rest of the country in the near future.
When it comes to bringing home new immigrants, it is also important to secure jobs of existing residents. New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant emphasized that attracting new people and repatriating residents are both part of the same consolidated effort.
Premier MacLauchlan also said that through immigration, We will make Prince Edward Island a more attractive place in terms of repatriation. He mentioned that in order to create sustained prosperity, the workforce in his province must grow.
Dwight Ball, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, however, pointed out that while increased immigration is necessary for the growth of the region, existing residents who are unemployed shall not be overlooked.
He said, Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to invest in our residents who are ready and looking for employment. We will continue to train those that are under-skilled and looking for work.
Ageing population concerns:
The new growth strategy also aims to address the ageing demography of Atlantic Canada.
According to figures released by Statistics Canada for the second quarter of 2014, overall population in the region has fallen 0.4 per cent since the third quarter of 2012, to 2,364,770. This shows that there is a marked difference between the mortality rate and the birth rate in the three provinces of Atlantic Canada; Prince Edward Island is the only exception.
Therefore, emphasis is given highly on retaining immigrants by working with the provincial governments and employers together so that future immigration can be tied up with labour market requirements in the region.
Innovation is essential:
To build up a strong economy, the premiers said they will also focus on priority areas like innovation, trade and investment and infrastructure. They will also aim to initiate growth and development while switching to a low-carbon economy.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan said in a written release, To build on our successes and create sustained prosperity for Prince Edward Island, we must grow our workforce and continue to foster an environment of innovation and entrepreneurship.
There is also a working agreement with the federal government to improve access to high speed internet and premium cell phone services in the region. This in the long run will aid to market the region internationally for its food and tourism, as well as create jobs to head towards its low carbon economy goal.
The leadership committee formed by the four premiers and federal ministers including John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Judy Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement will oversee the plan.
The leaders say the first phase of the plan will probably be implemented by the end of the year.
(Writing and reporting by Debarati Mukherjee and Chandan Som)