The Nova Scotia government has announced a huge jump in the number of allocations to the provincial nominee and Atlantic immigration programs.
The province said in a news release Thursday it can approve a total of 5,430 applicants this year — 40 per cent more than the 3,857 it approved to settle in Nova Scotia in 2021.
"We're really excited to see such an increase," said Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser, "It's the highest number of allocations that the province has ever received."
The increase includes 400 new spaces, or 17 per cent more than last year, through the provincial nominee program. Under the program, prospective newcomers — including physicians, entrepreneurs, and other workers whose skills are in demand in Nova Scotia — are nominated for immigration.
An extra 1,173 spaces for Nova Scotia, or 75 per cent more than last year, have been added to the Atlantic Immigration Program, which provides a pathway to permanent residency for skilled foreign workers and international graduates who want to live in one of the four Atlantic provinces.
Balser credits the larger increase to the program's success with employers, and because it comes with additional support for immigrant families.
"That particular program also comes with a settlement component," Balser said, "So we have to work very closely with our settlement partners to make sure that newcomers are coming, that their families are getting connected to communities and have the resources that they need."
The Nova Scotia government said Ottawa is also committed to expanding allocation targets for these programs over the next three years.
Pilot became permanent in January
Booming immigration and interprovincial migration led to Nova Scotia's population exceeding one million for the first time at the end of last year.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot launched in March 2017 and was designed to bring more skilled workers to Atlantic Canada by quickly identifying employers and reducing applicant processing time to six months or less. The program became permanent Jan. 1.
Refugees and people arriving on the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel are not included in the allocation.
More than 500 people from Ukraine have arrived since February and are staying in Nova Scotia.
Record-breaking arrivals last year
In 2021, Nova Scotia welcomed a record-breaking 9,025 new permanent residents.
However, the province also recently made some abrupt changes to the Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry program which left the future of hundreds of foreign student workers murky.
Balser would not answer questions about whether international students who were disqualified after already working for months would be allowed into the accelerated program.
But she urged those students to contact her department, where they could apply their accumulated hours to immigration streams requiring two years of work experience rather than one.
The budget for 2022-23 includes an additional $1 million for marketing campaigns targeting Nova Scotia's immigration and population growth, as well as $895,000 to hire staff to support newcomers. There is also an additional $1.4 million for settlement services in communities across the province.
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