Availability of affordable housing needs to be addressed, says multicultural group
Newcomers challenged to find rental options, especially those that accept children
If Premier Blaine Higgs' goal is to attract 10,000 immigrants per year to New Brunswick by 2027, organizations working to help newcomers settle here say the province's housing crisis needs to be addressed.
"This is a provincial issue and we need a provincial solution and not just availability, but especially availability of affordable housing," said Alex LeBlanc, executive director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.
Many newcomers also face the added stress of not finding a place that will rent to families with children. Rym Farah and her family are desperately trying to find an apartment in Dieppe after the building they were living in was destroyed by fire Sept. 20.
"Now it's so hard to find another apartment, especially if you have kids. I feel like we have some discrimination against family with kids."
LeBlanc said they are getting more reports from agencies that newcomers are having trouble finding housing because they have children.
"I think that speaks to a trend we're seeing in new housing developments where they're kind of targeting older age demographics."
They have been in touch with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission about discrimination being shown against families with children.
"We're trying to better understand how do we flag those situations and address them appropriately when they come up."
Myriam Mekni, executive director of MAGMA and chair of the Greater Moncton Local Immigration Partnership said it's a problem that is becoming all to common for newcomer families.
"It's even harder now and especially looking at budget and affordability."
Mekni said the rental market has changed even since the pandemic began, adding even more stress onto those searching for a place to live.
"The family composition of the newcomers that we are attracting is not the traditional Canadian family composition. So they would need a place for at least two or three kids with them."
She adds some end up paying more than half their monthly income toward paying rent.
"It's just a difficult situation. They won't be able to to move past that and succeed in their settlement journey."
LeBlanc said the housing shortage is not just an immigration issue but one that is impacting the working class, international students and domestic students alike.
But he said if the province is expecting as many as 75000 immigrants over the next decade to come here, then housing needs to be addressed for those families and for all New Brunswick workers who are struggling with affordability right now.
Mekni said anyone considering immigrating to New Brunswick should be given the real housing picture so they are aware of what to expect.
"We need to be truthful about what we promote and if the expectations are set properly before people arrive, I don't think there will be any disappointments."
Employment for newcomers
LeBlanc said a lot more needs to be done on accreditation or credential recognition for newcomers.
"That's something that we continue to advocate for and work with our partners. The province is well aware of the challenge and I think they're starting to dig into specific professions."
But LeBlanc said it can be better.
Immigrants in New Brunswick are finding work, but often that work is below their level of education.
"We need to work on infrastructure if we want our population growth to go there, to be on the track that we want it to be on, there needs to be some work done on the ground. We need to work on the housing, the labour market, the credentials recognition, the school system, that cross-cultural communication between employers and the educational system and the newcomers."
With files from Information Morning Moncton