Nfld. & Labrador

Is N.L. immigration plan too ambitious? 3 migrants share their thoughts

Newfoundland and Labrador has a strategy to boost immigration by 50 per cent in the next five years — but what do immigrants living here think of that plan?

Immigrants from Philippines, Nigeria and South Africa chime in on St. John's Morning Show panel

(Left to right) Romel Maligaya from Philippines, Olubunmi Adetutu Ogunsakin (Bunmibee) of Nigeria and Sean Charters of South Africa shared their experiences of being immigrants living in Newfoundland. (Paula Gale/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government's new immigration strategy aims to boost the number of people coming to the province from other countries by 50 per cent in the next five years — but what do immigrants already living here think of that plan?

CBC's St. John's Morning Show put together a panel of three immigrants who all said that employment is the key to keeping new citizens.  

Sean Charters (South Africa)

Sean Charters moved to St. John's 18 years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa to escape the crime and violence there.

"When I came there was the absolute sense of relief that you could relax in your own home," he said.

South Africa is the most southernmost country in Africa with a population of nearly 55,000,000 people. (Google Maps)

He likes the idea that Newfoundland and Labrador is open to accepting new immigrants, but wonders if setting a target of 50 per cent over five years is a sound plan.

Charters, who works in marketing and communications, would instead like to see a correlation between the number of jobs available in any given year, and the amount of people allowed in.

"It's all very well saying you're going to have people coming and be a positive influence on society, but unless you have something for them to do it's difficult for them to stay," he said.

Bunmibee (Nigeria)

Memorial University business student Olubunmi Adetutu Ogunsakin, better known as Bunmibee, has been studying in St. John's for nearly two years, and feels much safer here than she did back home in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a country in West Africa with a population of roughly 188,465,000 people. (Google Maps)

Bunmibee would like to stay in the province to work when she finishes her degree, but said it all depends on job opportunities at the time.

"What I like most about St. John's is that the people are very nice," she said. "The environment here is kind of relaxed. I'm not really a big city person all of the time."

Romel Maligaya (Philippines)

More than seven years after being transferred to St. John's by his employer, Transocean, Romel Maligaya has lived previously in Trinidad and the Middle East, as well as his home in the Philippines.

Maligaya said his family still very much enjoys it here — and surprisingly even likes the weather.

The Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of about 101,000,000 people. (Google Maps)

"It's the peace and quiet. It's a really good place for families and small kids," he said. "The weather in the Philippines is dangerous. The snow doesn't damage homes here."

He shares the sentiment that the government's plan to bring in 50 per cent more immigrants in the next five years may be a little ambitious, and thinks 10 years would be more reasonable.

"They need to create jobs first and then bring people," said Maligaya, a chartered professional accountant. "There is a danger of people being unemployed or underemployed."

Listen to the full panel interview below:

With files from St. John's Morning Show