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.

Frank McKenna at the PPF Atlantic Summit 2018

PPF immigration summit hears
stark warnings and signs of hope

“Demographic change is a slow-moving train wreck. The train wreck has arrived.”

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.

PPF is excited to continue this project and actively engage with partners across Atlantic Canada. Keep current on this project or by contacting Policy Lead Charlie Carter.

What we heard at the summit

Atlantic Summit 2018: Immigration & Revitalization

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