A weekend feature in The Washington Post about American interest in immigrating to Cape Breton Island highlights how Canada could benefit from growing nervousness about the Trump presidency.
Cape Breton DJ Rob Calabrese has received more than 5,000 emails since he put up a $28-website encouraging Americans to escape Trump by moving to Cape Breton Island, N.S. The Washington Post article, published last Saturday, features interviews with Calabrese, locals in Cape Breton, and Americans who have thought about moving. Many of the more recent inquiries he received were from worried immigrants, Calabrese told Outside — an online publication that also recently published a piece about Cape Breton Island.
Of course, a move to Canada is not straightforward for everyone — as in, those who don’t already have citizenship, a work visa, or a processed immigration application. Some of the most recent immigrants to Cape Breton Island are not Americans, but Syrian refugees. The Washington Post reports 54 of them have arrived to the island so far.
But an influx of new arrivals could be a boom for Cape Breton, where the population continues to age and decline as traditional industries like coal and fishing dry up, and younger residents leave for school or work. Cape Breton’s population is about 132,000 today, but it was above 158,000 20 years ago. Much of the decline is in younger generations, as 17 schools were shut down last year. The island has an unemployment rate of 15.5 per cent, compared to a national average of 6.7 per cent. There’s also no shortage of low-priced homes available for new residents looking for somewhere to live.
Newfoundland and Labrador has some of the same issues of declining population and shifting economies seen in Cape Breton, and is also considering immigration part of their solution. Last month, the provincial government launched a new strategy aiming to increase immigration by 50 per cent, in order to hit a goal of 1,700 new arrivals annually by 2022. According to a study released in 2016, only 40 per cent of immigrants who first lived in the province when they arrived to Canada were still there ten years later.
Some argue that Canadian universities could also benefit from immigration, as researchers and scientists look for jobs outside of the U.S. (because of Trump) and U.K. (because of Brexit). The president of CIFAR, a global research network that funds scientists, told CBC News in March that Canada’s science sector has an opportunity to take advantage of its attractiveness to researchers around the world.
Other Canadian scientists have already expressed concern for support for research during Trump’s presidency. They’ve also expressed support and offered research space for researchers affected by American bans on travel and immigration.
Canada’s growing tech industry could also benefit if overseas skilled workers opt to try for Canadian visas instead of ones to work in California’s Silicon Valley. Last fall, the Liberal government unveiled a strategy to make it easier for tech companies to bring in foreign skilled workers. The move was to partly fill a shortage of skilled IT workers that is expected to reach 218,000 workers as early as 2020. And last month when the federal budget was released, it included $7.8 million to implement a Global Talent Stream and amendments to the express entry program.