New Brunswick

10,000 immigrants won't come to N.B. if housing is beyond reach, council warns

The New Brunswick Multicultural Council says the provincial government's ambitious new immigration targets hinge on the creation of tens of thousands of new affordable housing units.

Province sets ambitious goal for attracting thousands of immigrants by 2027

Newcomers need to be able to afford places to live if they're going to make a commitment to New Brunswick, says Alex LeBlanc, executive director of the Multicultural Council of New Brunswick. (Joe McDonald/CBC)

The New Brunswick Multicultural Council says the provincial government's ambitious new immigration targets hinge on the creation of tens of thousands of new affordable housing units.

Premier Blaine Higgs announced in his recent state of the province speech that he wants to attract 10,000 immigrants to the province a year by 2027.

"When newcomers are coming, if they can't find a house it's a pretty full stop for them, in terms of making New Brunswick or Fredericton at least their home," said Alex LeBlanc, executive director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.  

'We need a housing strategy' 

LeBlanc said Labour Minister Trevor Holder recognizes the housing shortage is an issue for newcomers.

"They recognize that we need a housing strategy," LeBlanc said.

Last spring, Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard said 151 new subsidized housing units will be created by 2022.

According to New Brunswick's Housing Strategy, the province is aiming to build 1,200 subsidized units.

However, if the province wants to bring in 10,000 immigrants a year, LeBlanc said there needs to be a housing strategy for at least 24,000 new units.

"We need to figure out what that housing target is and then mobilize the developers," he said. 

Province steps in

Last week, Holder led a meeting with stakeholders to identify some of New Brunswick's housing challenges.

"Safe and affordable housing is an issue that touches New Brunswickers and newcomers alike," said Leigh Watson, a spokesperson for the department.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Watson said the department will continue to encourage conversations. Meanwhile, the Department of Social Development is working with the federal government on low-income housing solutions.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs wants New Brunswick's population to grow to one million people by 2040. (Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press)

"A collective effort is needed from federal and provincial governments, municipalities, post-secondary institutions, the construction industry, labour organizations and stakeholder groups in order to address this challenge," Watson said.

While LeBlanc admits this will be an investment for the province, he said the units will also contribute to New  Brunswick's economic growth including: job creation, adding to the tax-base, and growing New Brunswick's school system.

"We need housing that's affordable for all people. All New Brunswickers, as well as newcomers," he said.

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

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