Nova Scotia's NDP leader says that while she's happy to see newcomers bound for the province, the government is too focused on immigration amid a housing and public service crisis.
"If we're going to bring vulnerable people into Nova Scotia …we need to ensure that they have housing and services," said Claudia Chender Thursday.
"That needs to be an upfront part of the conversation because otherwise we risk doing a real disservice and harm to people."
The province announced Wednesday that dozens of people are set to begin arriving in Nova Scotia this summer to begin working as continuing care assistants.
Provincial officials visited refugee camps in Kenya in October 2022 to recruit workers and partnered with a number of organizations, including the UN, to find people with skills and training.
The Office of Healthcare Professionals Recruitment approved conditional job offers for 65 people, according to a news release issued Wednesday.
On Thursday, Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Zach Churchill echoed Chender's concerns about providing housing and services for the new workers.
"We [also] can't just take for granted that things are going to work out if we bring people here. They have to be supported, they have to have places to live and they have to be well connected to our community."
New workers are 'part of the solution': minister
Nova Scotia announced a 23% increase to continuing care assistants salaries in February of 2022, bringing the top salary to $48,419.
When reporters asked about bridging the gap between wages and housing after a cabinet meeting Thursday, Immigration Minister Jill Balser said people solve the housing crisis.
"So with our population growth goals, we've always been clear that we need people to help solve the housing crisis, we need people to help fill in the labour gaps in the shortages that exist," Balser said.
"So making sure that we're recruiting the people to bring those skills here, they're part of the solution and that's what we need."
Nova Scotia Housing Minister John Lohr said he has been working with the Department of Health and Wellness on a housing plan and is "optimistic we have all the solutions." Lohr says he expects to have something to announce in the coming weeks.
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