New Brunswick population growing faster than it has in decades, study says
The province's population grew 0.5 per cent a year from 2016 to 2018
A new study says New Brunswick's population is growing at its fastest pace in decades, although still more slowly than the other two Maritime provinces.
According to an Atlantic Provinces Economic Council report released Tuesday, New Brunswick's population grew 0.5 per cent a year from 2016 to 2018 — the highest rate since the early 1990s.
Fred Bergman, senior policy analyst for the council, said a lot of it has to do with international migration.
"The key is you hope to retain some of those people, especially the immigrants," Bergman said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.
To do this, he said, immigrants need to be employed, have a place to live in a welcoming community, and be able to rely on better services.
"Keeping them here, making sure they settle here and are less likely to move to a larger urban centres in other parts of Canada outside the Maritimes," Bergman said.
When the 2016 census came out, New Brunswick's population was 747,101, including 33,810 immigrants. The province was the only one to see its population shrink since the previous census.
The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council report did not include provincial population figures it's using for the years since then.
Bergman said the increase the council found could be related to government programs such as the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program, which has brought 7,800 people to the province. There's also the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which has brought in more than 700 people.
Both programs are designed to attract skilled workers to Atlantic Canada.
It's just going to pump more dollars into the economy.- Fred Bergman, Atlantic Provinces Economic Council
Bergman said interprovincial migration has also helped boost New Brunswick's economy because of lower oil prices since 2014.
"As the prices have dropped, there's been less moving or residing in Alberta," he said.
"And some of those people that might've been originally from the Maritimes, have come back to the Maritimes."
The bulk of individuals returning would be between 19 and 45, a working age group.
Prince Edward Island reported the fastest growth, at two per cent year over year. Nova Scotia's population grew by one per cent. Newfoundland and Labrador's population declined slightly after seven years of growth.
The report said the population in the region continues to be older than in other parts of the country, with more seniors now than teenagers and children.
Benefits to population growth
The population increase could cause greater demand for programs and services in New Brunswick. At the same time, Bergman said, it will create more income, benefits to the province's tax base, jobs and economic for things like houses, cars or apartment rentals.
"It's just going to pump more dollars into the economy," he said.
Although Bergman couldn't say for sure whether this was a temporary uptick, he said the growth rates in the three Maritime provinces haven't been seen in two decades or more.
"If you have slower population growth, you have lower economic growth for longer," he said. "But if we're seeing this bump in population and if we can hold onto it for a longer period of time ... we might be able to offset that."
With files from Information Morning Fredericton