FREDERICTON (GNB) – The four Atlantic premiers and members of the federal cabinet will work together on an Atlantic Growth Strategy and an immigration pilot program in order to grow the economy and support families in the region.
The strategy will contain targeted actions to stimulate the region’s economy, support both innovative and resource-based industries and increase job opportunities for Atlantic Canadians.
The strategy will focus on the following five priority areas:
  • skilled workforce and immigration;
  • innovation;
  • clean growth and climate change;
  • trade and investment; and
  • infrastructure.
As a first step in implementing the strategy, federal Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum announced an immigration pilot program following meetings with the four Atlantic premiers and members of the federal cabinet in St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island.
“Atlantic Canada faces an aging demographic challenge,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “It is imperative that we keep our young people here, bring back Atlantic Canadians to the region and increase the amount of new Canadians coming to our four provinces. The immigration pilot program will allow more new Canadians to Atlantic Canada, provide more flexibility to the provinces and focus more efforts on retention. This will help New Brunswick's labour force and our economy.”
The three-year pilot program has been established to help address resource gaps that sectors are facing and to help businesses attract and retain global talent while also supporting population growth, developing a skilled workforce and increasing employment rates in the region.
“The introduction of the immigration pilot program shows that no time was wasted to deliver under the Atlantic Growth Strategy,” said Gallant. “Atlantic Canadians need to work together to ensure programs appropriately address the needs of local business and society so that we can grow our economy. This pilot program is an important step in that process.”
The pilot program will test innovative approaches that will help retain immigrant workers in the Atlantic provinces in support of the strategy.
It will facilitate the entry of 2,000 principal immigrants into Atlantic Canada in 2017. Principal applicants can bring their family, so the actual number of immigrants could be several times greater. The number of immigrants is subject to increase in the second and third year of the program if there is sufficient demand.
“New Brunswick recently welcomed more Syrian refugees per capita than any other province,” said Gallant. “The warm and friendly nature of our communities is one of our biggest strengths, which promises successful outcomes for this immigration pilot.”
The meeting was a follow-up to the Council of Atlantic Premiers meeting in May and the historic first meeting between Atlantic premiers and members of the federal cabinet in February.
Gallant was joined by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball; Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan; and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
Federal government representatives included Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAuley; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum; Treasury Board President Scott Brison; Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Minister Dominic LeBlanc; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Singh Bains; and Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote.
More information about the meeting is available online.