From quality jobs to child education, here are reasons why some immigrants leave P.E.I.

·4 min read
According to Statistics Canada, P.E.I. retained immigrants at a rate of 28.1 per cent from 2014-2019. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press - image credit)
According to Statistics Canada, P.E.I. retained immigrants at a rate of 28.1 per cent from 2014-2019. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press - image credit)

For some newcomers to Canada who have stayed and left Prince Edward Island, the latest data on the province's low immigrant retention rate is no surprise.

According to Statistics Canada, only 28 per cent of immigrants choose to remain on the Island five years after coming to Canada.

Ashley Nixon, who is from the Bahamas, left P.E.I. last December after struggling to find a job following a one-year journalism and communications program at Holland College.

She said the latest StatsCan data "rings true." Most immigrants come to the Island for good jobs and a permanent residency, however the quality of jobs they get aren't what they're looking for, Nixon said.

"You're given kind of a false narrative that P.E.I. is this place where you automatically get your permanent residency, it's a seamless process and there are so many jobs," she said.

"I applied for a communications director [position], I applied for administrative assistant, I applied for customer service, I went on quite a number of interviews."

Prior to studying at Holland College, Nixon said she came to the Island with more than a decade of experience working in the field of journalism and communications.

"I had so much experience, but upon going to the interview I wouldn't get a call back," she said. "I have a well-versed, accomplished resume and it was just a bit disheartening to realize that I was not getting the same traction as I was at home."

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Despite her struggles, Nixon said she didn't want to put any emotion toward her job-hunting experience. She assumed she didn't get the positions she applied for because there might have been better candidates, rather than because of her nationality or race, she said.

"I remained optimistic throughout the process, but at the end I grew discouraged and just decided to take the plunge and leave P.E.I."

Nixon moved to London, Ont., where she found a job as an executive assistant.

More school options for children elsewhere

Elaine Nguyen left the Island last September.

She came to the province in 2015 through the Provincial Nominee Program. Nguyen said she left P.E.I. because of her children's education and recreational lifestyle.

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"My eldest daughter is now in Grade 11, I decided to move to Toronto for more variety of schools, more course choices," she said.

"Also for my younger son, he's in Grade 7 and he's kind of a sporty boy. He would like to join so many clubs like judo, skateboarding, skating, skiing, but there's not many choices in P.E.I."

Although finding a job wasn't a reason Nguyen left P.E.I., she said she got jobs as a realtor and legal assistant within a month of relocating to Ontario.

"I didn't have the intention to do so, but it just came up. I think there's so many jobs here that suit everyone," she said. "In a very small population like P.E.I., you might find it difficult to get a job that you want."

She said most of her friends, who were once immigrants to P.E.I., left before she did.

"They already left. I was the very last person in the [friend] group."

Housing, healthcare more reasons to leave

Ally Guo is a realtor on the Island and has seen most of her friends leave. She came to P.E.I. almost eight years ago and had the opportunity to buy a home when she came here.

She said some immigrants leave because they cannot buy a home here. It's why she became a realtor and stayed on P.E.I., she said.

CBC News/Laura Meader
CBC News/Laura Meader

"For me, it's like I'm needed here. It's like my neighbour is my friend. They welcome me here, they think I'm helpful," she said.

Guo said another reason why some immigrants leave the province is because of health care.

"I applied for a family doctor for eight years, and I never got one."

As for Ashley Nixon, she said the main reason immigrants leave is to find better jobs. She suggests employers should value foreigners who bring skills from their home country and want to live on P.E.I.

"I would like to see employers give themselves the ability to have an open mind when they are going through the hiring process with their candidates. They should be placed off of their ability and not overlooked because of where they're from," she said.

"I would like to see an inclusion in the workplace with internationals … maybe in time P.E.I. will grow to be inclusive. I feel it's diverse but not inclusive."

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