The federal government has agreed to increase the cap on the number of people Nova Scotia can fast track through the immigration system this year by 200, Premier Darrell Dexter announced Wednesday.
Dexter said the increase will bring the total number of nominees from 500 to 700 — for this year only — and the province will continue to lobby for more spaces.
Nova Scotia has not been able to fill its quota of 500 in the past. In 2010, for the first time, the province was able to nominate the maximum number of people allowed under the nominee program.
Dexter said since then, Nova Scotia has been asking the federal government for permission to eventually double the number of skilled workers it can accept through the channel.
"I think they're looking to see," Dexter told reporters Wednesday.
"We've been arguing to them, 'You give them to us and we'll use them.' I think this is a little bit of, you know, put up or shut up."
The nominee program allows immigrants to apply in several categories: skilled workers, international graduates, community identified people, family business workers, non-dependent children of nominees and agriculture.
Dexter said the province has beefed up services to immigrants to ensure when they come, they have every opportunity to stay.
Fred Morley, the executive vice-president and chief economist with the Greater Halifax Partnership, said he's pleased with the cap increase and wants even more.
"A lot of people that understand that we need more talented people heading to Nova Scotia wanted to see some kind of increase," he said.
"Folks that come in through the nominee program tend to stay put in Nova Scotia more so than folks that come in through other channels. So an increase there is very important to businesses that are looking for employees to the province."
Approximately 2,000 immigrants in total come to Nova Scotia each year.
The provincial immigration strategy aims to increase that number to 7,200 each year by 2020.