Atlantic Newsletter #6: People-centric economic development & taking stock of all things skills
Plus: talking to employers, entrepreneurship and Atlantic Conference 2020Thursday February 13, 2020
Frank McKenna pulled no punches in setting the scene at the Public Policy Forum’s Atlantic Summit in Fredericton, NB on March 21. “It’s not overly dramatic to say the future of Atlantic Canada is at stake.”
The summit, which attracted hundreds from around Atlantic Canada, kicked off PPF’s three-year policy research project on Atlantic revitalization, with a special focus on newcomer retention. PPF also released a two-volume report, The People Imperative: Strategies to Grow Population and Prosperity in Atlantic Canada.
But McKenna, the Deputy Chair of TD Bank Group, a three-term Premier of New Brunswick and Canada’s former ambassador to the United States, sees the Atlantic Immigration Pilot as a hopeful step for the region. After all, “immigrants go where immigrants are. Immigrants stay where immigrants are,” he said. And right now, “Atlantic Canada is not getting its fair share (of newcomers) and is certainly not keeping it.”
Through a series of speakers, from UNB Professor Herb Emery to ACOA President Francis McGuire, participants heard about the challenges and the new energy that is leading to a cultural change in how newcomers are received and integrated into the Atlantic Canadian economy. That, it is hoped, will reverse the demographic decline of the region and provide opportunity for growth.
Already there are promising signs in the region: retention rates are slowly increasing year over year, and the provinces and Ottawa are testing new approaches. Amanda Hachey showed how the New Brunswick Economic Immigration Lab has convened people from many sectors to prototype retention solutions. Executives from JD Irving, IBM and Day & Ross Transportation explained the changing role of employers in recruiting and keeping talented newcomers.