Immigration boom skips New Brunswick

Canada's immigration boom is passing New Brunswick by, the latest figures show, but demographers say there is one important exception.

Only 3.9 per cent of population foreign-born

Statistics Canada figures show New Brunswick has a much lower rate of immigration than the national average. 2:02

Canada’s immigration boom is passing New Brunswick by, the latest figures show, but one demographer say that's changing.

The 2011 National Household Survey from Statistics Canada shows the country is home to about 6.8 million foreign-born residents. That accounts for 20.6 per cent of the population, up from 19.8 per cent in 2006.

Of the G8 countries, only Australia has a higher percentage of residents born abroad.

New Brunswick is well below the national average. Foreign-born people account for 3.9 per cent of New Brunswick’s population. In 1991, that number was 3.3 per cent. Visible minorities account for 2.3 per cent of New Brunswickers, compared to 19.1 per cent nationally.

4,000 immigrations in 3 years

Michael Haan, a University of New Brunswick demographer, said there have been recent gains, thanks to the province's efforts to recruit newcomers.

"Between 2008 and 2011, we admitted more than 4,000 immigrants. That is greater than the entire number of immigrants that was admitted to New Brunswick in the 1980s," he said.

Joon Kim's Korean restaurant is a popular stop with Saint John's lunch crowd.  Kim and his family arrived in New Brunswick three years ago and they intend to stay.

"I'm very happy," he said.

Nadia Zed teaches English to newcomers. She said she sees more immigrants today than 25 years ago.

"We seem to have more ethnic restaurants. We see all kinds of people on the street who aren't white, as you say. So yes, it has been growing and these people seem to be happy to be here," she said.

The non-response rate to the survey, which is now voluntary, was 28 per cent in the province. Critics have said many non-respondents will be people who struggle with English and French, which could skew the numbers.