P.E.I. looking for agents to promote immigration

The P.E.I. government has set a new population target, and it is looking for agents who will attract immigrants to help it reach that goal.

Province aims to add 10,000 people in 5 years

(From left) Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister, Sonny Gallant, Ashley Condon, co-owner of Copper Bottom Brewing, Premier Wade MacLauchlan, and Ken Spears, Condon's husband and co-owner of Copper Bottom Brewing. The province announced Thursday its plan to grow the population of P.E.I. to 160,000 people by 2022. Part of their plan is to repatriate Islander's like Condon, who is opening a rural business after moving back to the province. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The P.E.I. government has set a new population target, and it is looking for agents who will attract immigrants to help it reach that goal.

The target is 160,000 people by the end of 2022. The government's previous target was 150,000 for this year, which it should come close to reaching.

"If we hope to sustain our prosperity and quality of life, we need to square-up to our opportunities and challenges related to population," said Premier Wade MacLauchlan in a news release.

Focus on rural communities

The plan will focus on growing the population in rural communities across the Island.

"That's ultimately what it's about, is to see that for communities to do well, there have to be people, there have to be opportunities, there have to be businesses that are starting," he said. "People are finding new ways to do things. That all comes together to make for healthy communities."

Immigration is a central part of the government's growth plan.

The government will issue a request for proposals in the coming months for Island agents who will work overseas to promote P.E.I. as a place to do business as well as help potential immigrants through the immigration process.

The government plans to announce changes to the provincial immigration process this fall that will allow preference for immigrants seeking to establish in rural areas.

Repatriating Islanders

The plan also focuses on figuring out ways to repatriate Islanders who have moved away.

Thursday's announcement was held at Copper Bottom Brewing in Montague, P.E.I., which is owned by Ashley Condon and her husband Ken Spears.

Condon moved away from the Island when she was in her teens and moved back about six years ago.

"I'm from … Murray Harbour North. I left when I was younger like any teenager does. I wanted to get away and see the world. I saw the world and I really missed home and wanted to come back," said Condon.

Condon said opening a business in rural P.E.I. has allowed her business to shine in a market that isn't over saturated with competition.

"We're kind of the action that's happening in town these days. It's pretty exciting." she said. 

MacLauchlan said he hopes other Islander's follow Condon and Spears' example and move back home to help build the province's population.

Reaching the target means the province will have to continue the high rate of growth in 2016, when it grew 1.4 per cent. The growth of in 2015 was just 0.5 per cent.