Moncton needs to significantly increase the number of immigrants moving to the city in the next decade, according to two consultants.
Moncton attracts roughly 340 people to settle in the city each year.
David Campbell, an economist and consultant for the city, said that number will need to jump to closer to 800 a year in the next few years.
"If you want to continue to grow the population and supply the labour market needs, we're going to have to see a fairly significant increase even in the short term of immigration," he told Moncton council on Monday night.
In about 10 years, he said the city will have to welcome closer to 1,700 new people per year.
To put that into perspective, Campbell said, Moncton will need to lure as many immigrants to the city each year as presently come to the province.
The economist has called for an increase in immigration in the past. Campbell said more immigration would mean more investment and jobs.
In January, Campbell said New Brunswick welcomed more than 7,000 immigrants between 2006 and 2011.
A spokesperson with the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour said earlier this year the federal government caps New Brunswick's immigration at 625 people a year. Campbell said the New Brunswick government should lobby to have that cap increased to between 2,000 and 3,000 a year.
Changing the city's composition
Campbell said the increase in immigration will change the composition of the city.
And he said the city needs to start talking to people about how Moncton will be changing as more immigrants settle in southeastern New Brunswick.
“We need to now do a better job of expanding public awareness that immigration is going to be a larger part of our community makeup,” he said.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc used the consultants' presentation to praise the benefits of immigration to the city.
“I think we also need to consider how much immigration adds to the quality of life and the diversity in our community,” he said.
LeBlanc said he's impressed at how quickly children from immigrant families participate in the many cultural and artistic events in the city.
While Moncton is looking at adding even more immigrants, New Brunswick has not kept pace with the national average when it comes to attracting people from other countries.
Statistic Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey showed the country is home to about 6.8 million foreign-born residents. That accounts for 20.6 per cent of the population, up from 19.8 per cent in 2006.
New Brunswick is well below the national average. Foreign-born people account for 3.9 per cent of New Brunswick’s population. In 1991, that number was 3.3 per cent.
New Brunswick official languages commissioner said earlier this year that the provincial government should also focus more attention on boosting the number of French-speaking immigrants.