Nova Scotia leaders weigh in on immigration issues
About 3,000 international students come to Nova Scotia every year to study
A Syrian-born immigrant and economist is calling on provincial party leaders to do more for immigrants when the election is over and a new premier is declared.
Seven out of 10 immigrants who come to Nova Scotia move on when they can't find work.
Soulafa Al-Abbasi is calling for more career opportunities for immigrants in the province.
"It sets an example for the private sector. Another thing I would like to see is percentages, how many immigrants are being hired by the government annually?" she said.
Al-Abbasi came from Syria to study here in Nova Scotia, as 3,000 international students do each year.
Research shows graduates leave unless they get jobs. However, in a time when so many people are leaving, no political leader is promising affirmative action for immigrants.
"I don't think it's the government's role to tell a business who to hire. I think it's our role just to make the playing field level so the economy can grow and more people can be hired," said Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.
All parties want to increase the number of immigrants the province could accept through the provincial nominee program but that means persuading the federal government to expand the program.
"There's tremendous immigrant communities that want to be a part of helping us find a solution and reach out to the business community and then together we formulate a plan to take to Ottawa to convince them to lift that cap from 500," said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.
The federal government actually raised the cap to 700 people after lobbying by the Dexter government.
The New Democratic Party's goal is to triple the number of immigrants by 2020.
"We support loan guarantees through the credit union to immigrants who are looking to either buy or start a business here in Nova Scotia so that they have an opportunity to use their business expertise and their drive," said NDP Leader Darrell Dexter.
In the same way Naheed Nenshi became Calgary's mayor, Al-Abbasi said electing a more diverse group of MLAs could also send a signal for more people to come and to stay.