New Brunswick

Newcomers fuel largest N.B. population bump in 44 years

New Brunswick’s population swelled by 6,134 people over the spring and summer — the largest six-month increase since 1975 — as immigrants and residents of other provinces move in.

People from elsewhere in Canada and world give province largest 6-month increase since 1975

Ilia Reschny and her dog Pecan moved to Saint John from the interior of British Columbia this year. (Robert Jones/CBC)

Ilia Reschny is 21 and in late September decided to pack up her dog, Pecan, and move from the British Columbia interior to New Brunswick, even though to that point she had never been east of Saskatchewan.

"We're not used to seeing the ocean,"said Reschny. "Pecan didn't know what the ocean was when we got here, but everyone's been super nice. I love it so far."

Reschny's mother and her husband had moved to Saint John earlier in the year, attracted by affordable New Brunswick real estate, and so Reschny thought she would try it too.

They're part of a growing number of newcomers fuelling the largest increase in New Brunswick's population in two generations.

"The growth was the strongest since 1975, so in almost 45 years," Statistics Canada demographer Patrick Charbonneau said of the increase in people calling New Brunswick home during the spring and summer.

Driven by the unprecedented arrival of immigrants and a surge of residents moving from other provinces, New Brunswick's population grew by 6,134 between April and September, pushing it to a record 780,021.    

The increase is slightly below the national average but still a remarkable development in New Brunswick, which, as recently as 2007, had been shrinking.  

"It's really international migration that is fuelling population growth in New Brunswick," said Charbonneau, noting most provinces are having similar experiences.

"It's really part of a larger trend in Canada," he said.   

J.D. Irving Ltd. has sponsored a number of skilled immigrants to settle in central New Brunswick and work in its Chipman sawmill. A number of companies with operations in rural New Brunswick have recruited internationally for help. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

New Brunswick set a modern record in 2018 by attracting 4,609 immigrants. That's the most since current Statistics Canada records began in 1946, but the province will shatter that number this year. It is already 100 people beyond last year's total, with three months still to be counted.  

That is a major change.  

Six years ago, the province took in just 2,023 immigrants for the entire year and 20 years ago just 662.

Trevor Holder, the provincial minister in charge of population growth, said Thursday he's encouraged by the new numbers.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder oversees the province's population growth efforts and says he is pleased with a flood of new residents this year. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

"They represent very positive news for New Brunswick," Holder said in a statement released by his office.

But in addition to immigrants, there are large numbers of people like Reschny moving to the province from other parts of Canada.  

During the first nine months of 2019, more than 11,026 people came to New Brunswick from elsewhere in the country, the most for the first nine months of any year since 1986. It was also nearly 1,400 more people than left New Brunswick to settle in other provinces — a net gain that Reschny is now part of.

"It's way more affordable and I do like it," she said.

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