New Brunswick closes express entry immigration stream due to surge in applications

·4 min read
Arlene Dunn, the minister responsible for immigration, said the province is closing its express entry stream to ensure the province's allocation under the stream can meet all priority sectors.  (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Arlene Dunn, the minister responsible for immigration, said the province is closing its express entry stream to ensure the province's allocation under the stream can meet all priority sectors. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick has already received 3,000 expressions of interest from people hoping to come to or stay in the province, forcing the province to temporarily pause what is called the express entry stream.

In previous years, the federal government has given New Brunswick a quota of 450 to 600 spaces for immigrants coming to the province through they program.

But, with the increased demand, and no federal allocation yet for New Brunswick this year, the province said the pause was needed.

Arlene Dunn, the minister responsible for immigration, said in a statement the province is pausing the stream's applications to "ensure the province's allocation under express entry can meet the needs of all priority sectors."

The express entry stream can help fast track someone's pathway to permanent residency, depending on their eligibility.

It's an option for people who have a connection to New Brunswick already, whether it be through employment, as a student, or by having an in-demand occupation.

CBC News has asked the federal government what New Brunswick's allocation is this year.

It didn't provide that information, but said this year the provincial nominee program, which is managed under the express entry stream, represents 35 per cent of planned economic admissions, making it the "largest economic immigration program identified under the Immigration Levels Plan."

"The program has consistently grown in previous years and is expected to continue to grow with admissions targets of 83,500 in 2022, to 93,000 in 2024," a spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC News.

The federal government also said if there's a delay in letting each province know its allocation for the year, which happens through bilateral ministerial letters, the provinces should use the same number of allocations they received in the previous year.

CBC News asked whether there's a delay this year, but the federal government was unable to answer before publication.

Supplied by Michael Petrovici
Supplied by Michael Petrovici

Michael Petrovici owns a few businesses in the Bathurst area, including a cafe and restaurant.

He said the decision to close the express entry stream impacts four of his employees.

"I'm at risk of losing employees that are already with me, that were looking to apply to these programs," he said.

Petrovici said he's successfully helped employees use the express entry stream in the past. He planned to do so again this year, which is how he found out the province paused the program.

While he's helping his employees find alternatives with some help from Opportunities New Brunswick, he said one of his prospective employees will now be going to Ontario instead, where express entry is still available.

"We're rural New Brunswick, so obviously we have challenges with a very aging demographic," he said. "So we need new young people to move up here."

The province said if it allowed express entry to continue under the current circumstances, the large demand on existing programming would "jeopardize access to immigration for certain sectors or client types when it is required, such as internationally-educated nurses or international students who are currently in New Brunswick and graduating later this year."

CBC News asked the province if it was pausing the express stream to prioritize applications from nurses and international students.

"International students who have completed their studies in New Brunswick and internationally-educated healthcare professionals are always a priority," a spokesperson wrote in an email.

Immigration not only answer, researcher says

Dr. Ted McDonald, director of the NB Institute for Research, Data and Training, who studies immigration trends in New Brunswick, said if the province is using the provincial nominee program to target particular industries or occupations, then the concern is that they're not going to have the space to bring in the people the labour force needs.

"They see that some of these streams, the number of applications, is just far more than can possibly be taken in," he said.

While McDonald said New Brunswick would certainly benefit from having more skilled workers, immigration isn't the only answer.

He said other ways to address New Brunswick's growing skills demand can include training more people locally, attracting people back to New Brunswick who left for school, and recognizing the credentials of newcomers already here to allow them to work in their respective fields.

"We need to see immigration as one of the many tools that's available to address those skill shortages."

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