50% of immigrants in province leave after 5 years, new data show
Meanwhile, people from countries like China, Vietnam and Iran are more likely to move on
Immigrants moving to New Brunswick have boosted the province's population, which has hit a record high of more than 780,000 people.
But a closer look at the numbers suggests many of them don't want to spend their lives here.
Ted McDonald, director of the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training at the University of New Brunswick, has been collecting data on how many immigrants are moving to New Brunswick under the Provincial Nominee Program — and staying.
"The reason we're doing this is to help lead to better informed policy around immigrant attraction and retention," said McDonald said.
The Provincial Nominee Program, gives the province the power to sponsor and fast-track immigration applications for federal approval. The program brings in skilled workers, or experienced business people and their families who want to live in New Brunswick.
How data is collected
Data is being collected by taking landing records from the program and linking them to people's medicare records, if they have them.
"If you actually come to New Brunswick and you're here long enough to register for medicare … looking forward that's how we see if we actually keep you in the province."
If immigrants who fall under this program change provinces, there will be an exchange of health-care numbers with the date.
According to a report titled Immigrant Retention in New Brunswick: Results from Biznet and Citizen Database, retention rates are high during the first year after arrival, but then those numbers change.
The retention rate is around 75 per cent the first year. Over three years, that number drops to 60 per cent. And over the span of five years, about half are still in the province.
McDonald is also looking into whether cities such as Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton are keeping immigrants.
Retention numbers good or bad?
He isn't sure yet about those numbers, but the data does offer some insight and benchmarks.
"By benchmarking this, it provides the baseline to say, 'OK, are we able to improve that baseline and different things that the province is doing?"
One of the unusual findings is that some provincial nominees appear to have never shown up.
This could be because they never arrived in New Brunswick, left soon after they arrived or because their records could not be linked because of an incorrect birth date or different spelling of names.
The report also says New Brunswick only retains about 64 per cent of its targeted provincial nominee programs.
More people from Philippines
Under the nominee program, would-be immigrants apply to a particular province for a nomination, and those who are nominated can then apply for permanent residency in Canada.
A large number of nominees has consistently come from China, the country of origin for 100 nominees a year since 2013.
The number of nominees from the Philippines, however, has increased rapidly since 2016, reaching a total of 170 in 2017.
Data also show that immigrants from the Philippines are a lot more likely to stay in New Brunswick.
Entrepreneurs and newcomers from China, Iran and Vietnam are less likely to stick around.
Next project about why people stay or go
Keeping immigrants in a small rural province like New Brunswick is challenging, MacDonald said.
"Immigration population retention is a big issue for New Brunswick," MacDonald said. "It's a big issue for any place aside from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver."
Next, researchers will look into why some immigrants are more likely to stay and others more likely to leave.
"This is kind of setting the, what's happening?" he said of his study. "And now we're looking into, why is it happening."
With files from Information Morning Saint John