New Brunswick is going to turn its focus on francophones as it tries to boost its population.
The renewed population growth strategy, released by the government Thursday, charts a course to increase the province’s population by 5,000 over the next three years through “repatriation, attraction, retention and immigration” according to the government release.
The government says francophone immigrants are more likely to stay. One of the reasons for the first ever francophone Immigration Action Plan, also released Thursday.
Madhu Verma was a founding member of the Multicultural Association in Fredericton. She came to New Brunswick with her husband over 50 years ago.
“All the immigrants with whom I work, they love New Brunswick, they love the people, they love the surrounding," she said.
"But they say look, 'we have to find the work'."
All three of her children now work elsewhere in Canada.
New Brunswick's ongoing population decline accelerated during the first three months of 2014, according to June figures from Statistics Canada.
The median age in the province is currently 45.
The new plan works around the provincial nominee program capped at just over 600 by the federal government, and severe limits on the foreign worker program.
The action plan aims to attract 33 per cent francophone immigrants through its Provincial Nominee Program by 2020 to better reflect the linguistic makeup of the province.
The projected growth rate is slightly steeper than the current rate of growth, 6,000 people in the past five years.
It’s a ways off from Liberal Shawn Graham’s goal in 2008 of 5,000 people every year for 20 years.
Conservative minister Jody Carr said previous Liberal governments have inflated numbers for the “satisfaction of headlines.”
“Our government, under David Alward's leadership, we make sure that we have realistic plans that are doable plans that set objectives that increase, but make sure they are attainable targets,” he said.
Carr said he and his provincial counterparts will be meeting with Federal minister of employment, Jason Kenney next week in P.E.I. and those issues will be on the agenda.