The provincial government has finally revealed the details of its Population Growth Strategy, nine months after it was first announced.
Cabinet minister Joan Shea launched the strategy on Thursday. It included a discussion paper about the "grey wave" hitting Newfoundland and Labrador, and how the population is aging at a "dramatic pace."
The province also has the worst immigration retention rate in the country, the second lowest fertility rate, and the persistent issue of outmigration.
"If you look at the demographics of our province and the aging population and the number of young people from Newfoundland and Labrador, we can't depend on fertility alone, and immigration is definitely going to be needed to help us grow our population," Shea said.
The government sees part of the solution in holding public meetings. Officials plan to hold 11 consultation sessions in communities across the province, to get public input for the plan.
"We need to look at some of the challenges, as well as some of the opportunities, and we think that once we go out and consult with people, we will have a better understanding of attracting people to the province, but also retain people," Shea said.
"We are going to try and get on the ground as well, and make sure that key people, who have a vested interest in this or have a story to share, or the community leaders are there to help us in these consultations."
The government admitted that it is no longer enough to offer someone a job in the province – it needs to have attractive communities and better services for families.
They're also targetting ex-pats, international students, and temporary foreign workers.
It's not clear how much the strategy will cost, but it's expected to take some time before the strategy becomes concrete action.
Waste of money, opposition says
The provincial Liberal Party said the new Population Growth Strategy is a waste of money.
Interim Liberal Leader Eddy Joyce has taken that statement one step further, and said the strategy was a make-work project for Tory organizer Ross Reid, who is now Premier Kathy Dunderdale's chief of staff.
"It was a position that they created to waste taxpayers' money to find a position for a political hack, like Ross Reid, and I was correct," he said.
"Now, it's nine months later, and nothing's been done."
Joyce said he hopes the public meetings take place.
"My only hope is that if they are going to have the consultations, they are going to have better results than their last strategy, which was $1,000 a baby – which was a complete joke, a complete farce," he said