Lack of workers in Nova Scotia leads province to bet $2.5 million on marketing campaign to attract immigrants

Pilot Program To Help International Graduates Immigrate To Nova Scotia
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Nova Scotia’s latest, $2.5-million marketing campaign – announced this week to attract immigrants and those living elsewhere in the country to move to the Atlantic Canadian province – is its latest bid to fix serious labour shortages.

“We need to encourage more people to move to Nova Scotia to help us fill labour gaps, rebuild our economy and set a bold new course for business and financial growth,” said provincial Immigration Minister Jill Balser. 

“A marketing campaign will help us tell our story, show off our natural assets and demonstrate to the world why Nova Scotia is such an amazing place to study, work, live and raise a family.”

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In the 15 months that ended on Apr. 1 this year, the Atlantic Canadian province grew its population by 6,428, to hit 982,326, despite the border closures and travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, largely through immigration and a sudden influx of Canadians moving there from other provinces.

Immigrant and Canadians Outside of Atlantic Canada to Be Shown Beauty of Nova Scotia

The marketing campaign announced this week is expected to see the province’s Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration work with its communications and marketing staff in the Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage.

“People across Canada and beyond are increasingly looking to Nova Scotia as an attractive place to visit, work and live,” said Pat Dunn, Nova Scotia’s minister of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage.

“Drawing on the experience within Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage will let us showcase the diverse beauty of Nova Scotia’s cultures and people as we work with Immigration to help our communities grow and prosper.”

Nova Scotians are eager to welcome more newcomers, including immigrants, to their province, a Narrative Research poll revealed earlier this year.

Margaret Brigley, a partner and the chief executive officer of the Halifax-based Narrative Research, told that Nova Scotians recognize the important contribution newcomers make to the economy.

Labour Shortages Require That Nova Scotia Turn to Immigrants to Fill Jobs

“We’re becoming much more open that to meet our needs we have to look outside the region,” said Brigley in an interview.

“Much of this is driven by … an aging population. We have more people dying every year than are being born. For our economy to grow, we need more people.”

According to an online poll conducted in the last full week of July, 75 per cent of Nova Scotians feel their province should try to bring in more immigrants from outside the country. 

And even more, support the recruitment of medical doctors from overseas. A whopping 92 per cent of Nova Scotians want the province to recruit doctors from other countries.

Certainly, a quick solution for employers facing labour shortages may be the Global Talent Stream (GTS) of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) under which Canadian work permits and visa applications are processed within two weeks.

Population growth in Nova Scotia is unlikely to come from any increase in the size of families in the province which is following the North American trend of becoming smaller, not bigger. 

“With our aging population, we simply don’t have the cohort of women to have a natural increase in population,” said Brigley.

Nova Scotia needs younger workers for a great many positions which require physical stamina, like those in the agricultural and forestry sector, and also needs highly-skilled immigrants to address the labour shortages in the healthcare and information technology sectors. 

As the number of new daily cases of COVID-19 subsides and vaccination levels go up, the province is hoping for an economic recovery, one that will be fueled in part by a return to normal immigration levels.

“Nova Scotia’s recovery should be helped by improved population growth, which in turn will benefit from higher federal immigration targets and the decision to make the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program permanent,” noted TD Economics in their annual economic forecast.

“Population growth has been central to the province’s improved economic performance in recent years and has even held up relatively well thus far.”


In their provincial economic forecast at the start of this year, the bank’s chief economist Beata Caranci, deputy chief economist Derek Burleton, and economists Rishi Sondhi and Omar Abdelrahman predicted the Nova Scotia economy would grow by 4.2 per cent this year and 2.4 per cent in 2022.

Nationally, immigration drove almost three-quarters of Canada’s population growth during the past year despite all the border restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report by Statistics Canada reveals.

In its latest Canada Population Estimates report released on Wednesday, the country’s statistical analysis agency revealed the Canadian population grew by only about 208,900 during that year, less than half the almost 436,000 in the previous year.

Immigration, too, suffered a massive slump during that period, falling by 56.8 per cent to just a tad over 156,500.

That level of immigration, though, was enough to keep Canada growing. During a year affected by pandemic restrictions, immigration contributed to 74.9 per cent of Canada’s population growth, Statistics Canada revealed on Sept. 29.

There are also indications immigration to Canada is picking up again.

“Although international migration has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic levels, some signs of recovery have been seen since the beginning of 2021,” reads the Statistics Canada report.

“For example, international migration rose from 24,329 in the second quarter of 2020 to 75,084 in the same quarter of 2021.”

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