Nova Scotia

Atlantic Liberal leaders announce pilot programs for immigration, business growth

The Liberal premiers of three of the four Atlantic provinces gathered Friday morning in Wolfville, N.S., with federal regional ministers in the Trudeau government.

All-Liberal meeting planning the 'Atlantic Growth Strategy'

Treasury Board President Scott Brison, left, and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil talk at the start of a meeting of Atlantic Canada premiers and several federal ministers in Wolfville, N.S., on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The premiers of three of the four Atlantic Canadian provinces met with federal regional ministers Friday in Wolfville, N.S..

The all-Liberal meeting was to plan the "Atlantic Growth Strategy," and the premiers announced a number of pilot projects. 

The accelerated growth service will co-ordinate government business supports for 15 targeted businesses. The Atlantic immigration pilot program will accept 2,000 immigrants with job offers into the region. It will focus on temporary foreign workers already in the region and give them a path to permanent resident status as an incentive to stay in the region. 

Immigrants arriving in the region will have a job offer and an individualized settlement plan for them and their families.

"The idea behind this is to leverage the unique position of employers to help immigrants and their families better integrate into their new communities in Atlantic Canada and to remain here for the long-term so they can help grow the region's economy," said federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Immigration will be a big help for a number of industries

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the immigration program will be a big help for the trucking industry and fish plants. 

McNeil also said his province recognizes the need to capitalize on the 20,000 young people who choose his province for post-secondary education.

"About 7,000 to 8,000 of them are from other countries," said McNeil. "We're aggressively going to work with our universities to grow that number even more and provide them an avenue to stay inside of our province to grow jobs and create opportunities."

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant missed the meeting because of the ongoing power-outage in his province. Donald Arseneault, New Brunswick's intergovernmental affairs minister, is representing the province.

Atlantic Canada's provincial governments are Liberal, as are all of its MPs.

The Atlantic Growth Strategy is described in government messaging as an attempt to "identify shared priorities" and to "align actions with national and provincial priorities."

The focus is on five areas: 

  • Skilled workforce/immigration
  • Innovation
  • Clean growth and climate change
  • Trade and investment 
  • Infrastructure

"This is an unprecedented partnership between the federal and provincial governments," said MP for Kings–Hants Scott Brison.

The premiers and federal ministers also agreed in principle to a $20 million Atlantic trade and investment growth strategy, with an aim of doubling the number of exporting companies in the region by 2025.

With files from The Canadian Press