ARCHIVED – Socioeconomic Profiles of Immigrants in the Four Atlantic Provinces — Phase II: Focus on Vibrant Communities


This research project, conducted for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), is one of the research activities scheduled under the Atlantic Population Table Research Workplan for the year 2007-2008.  The question of attraction to, and promotion and retention of, immigrants in Atlantic Canada has been identified as a key priority for this research. Building on the project sponsored by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Rural Secretariat, the four provincial governments of Atlantic Canada and Saint Mary’s University on demographic and socioeconomic profiles of immigrants in all four provinces (reports available on , this project makes use of data on annual inflows of immigrants and data on resident immigrants based on the 2001 and 2006 censuses to provide a profile of immigrants in vibrant communities of Atlantic Canada. The information provided in this report is intended for the regional and municipal immigration policy-makers, community organizations, and immigrant settlement agencies involved in designing strategies to attract and retain immigrants in smaller communities of the Atlantic region.

In Phase I of this project, the phenomenon of declining population in Atlantic Canada was highlighted. It was noted that due to out-migration and a decline in the natural component of population growth, the population in Atlantic Canada has begun to decline. This decline would have been even worse, however, had there been no immigration in the region. Six major consequences of population decline were also identified in Phase I of this project.

At present, the Atlantic region receives only around two percent of total Canadian immigrant inflows every year, while its population constitutes about 7.2 percent of national population. To prevent the decline in regional population, many initiatives are undertaken at provincial and municipal government levels, and also at community levels, to attract more immigrants to the region and also to retain them. Increasing the provincial share of annual Canadian immigrant inflows is an important component of each province’s immigration strategy. Each provincial government in the region now has a separate department with the mandate to increase both the level of skilled worker immigration as a way of dealing with skill shortages, and the retention rate of annual immigrant inflows, which has been low in most Atlantic provinces since the mid-1990s. Each government is now a signatory to the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), federal-provincial bilateral agreements that allow each participating Canadian province to target and recruit immigrants to meet its own particular needs and who are then prioritized by CIC. The provincial governments are also collaborating regionally through the Council of Atlantic Premiers in developing promotional material, participating in overseas marketing missions, conducting research, doing credential assessment and recognition, and sharing information. Therefore, it is expected that immigration will continue to play an important role in shaping the future population growth of the region.

In this study, a vibrant community is defined as one that has features attractive to an immigrant. Several economic and non-economic factors have been identified by immigration literature that can make a community attractive for immigrants. Economic factors include the presence of a dominant industry, a labour market, wages, and the possibility of employment. Non-economic factors could include the presence of an immigrant community, especially from a similar ethnic background, which plays the role of an information network, thereby easing the settlement of new arrivals.

Three cities (Census Metropolitan Areas, CMA), including Halifax (total population: 372,858), Saint John’s (total population: 100,646), and Charlottetown (total population: 32,174); two counties (Census Divisions, CD), including Colchester (total population: 50,023) and Carleton (total population: 26,632); and one village (Census Sub Division, CSD), Florenceville (total population: 876), are identified as comprising vibrant communities for immigrant attraction and retention. Their identification as vibrant communities was based on the presence of several economic and non-economic factors outlined above. Opinions on the selection of vibrant communities were also sought from officials at each of the four provincial immigration departments, community organizations and immigrant settlement agencies.

The identified vibrant communities also each have in common that 1) they are less well known outside of Canada and 2) their community organizations and local governments are actively engaged in promoting them as welcoming communities to attract and retain newcomers from abroad. Community leaders recognize the importance of immigration in helping mitigate the effects of declining and aging population. The information they provide on the regional web sites contains separate sections on economic and cultural attractions that could interest a new immigrant planning to settle in Canada. Several programs are also held overseas by the community organizations that provide information to potential immigrants about their respective community. As reflected in the increasing numbers of immigrant inflows in these communities, such promotional activities have begun to show results.

Methodology and sources of data

The analysis presented in this report is based primarily on descriptive tools. A distinction is made between immigrants destined for a residential community in Atlantic Canada and those who actually stayed there. Among those who stayed, separate data are also analyzed for more recent immigrants, i.e., those who arrived within five years before a population census was conducted. To facilitate comparison with the overall community population, some parts of the analysis also use data on total population (which comprises of all permanent residents including non-immigrants and immigrants), whose averages represent original residents or non-immigrants because of the small proportion of immigrants in each community’s total population.

Immigrant inflow data are analyzed for the period 1991-2006 to assess any long-term trends. These data are based on special tabulations performed at CIC based on Facts and Figures.  However, these data are only available for the three cities, i.e., Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown.  Detailed immigrant inflow data for the other three communities are not available due to insufficient observations.

Analyses of resident immigrant data are based on 2001 and 2006 censuses and were purchased from Statistics Canada; these data are considered separately for overall and recent immigrants. For the village of Florenceville, separate immigrant data based on the 2001 census could not be obtained because of insufficient observations. Their numbers are also small (55 in total) in the 2006 census, but their data were obtained from Statistics Canada and are interpreted with caution. The analysis of Statistics Canada data on Florenceville is combined with information gathered through consultations with officials at the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and public presentations made by the Multicultural Association of Carleton County (MACC). In the case of Colchester County also, some information was gathered from the web site of the Colchester Regional Development Association (CORDA) and some through consultations. Following previous literature, the term “immigrant” is used in this study to refer to all foreign-born individuals who are permanent residents of Canada (temporary residents, such as temporary foreign workers, international students, or foreign diplomats, are not included in this definition). Those who arrived within the past five years of a census year are viewed as “recent immigrants” at the time of that census. Finally, data on total population resident in a community were obtained from the web site of Statistics Canada.

The report is divided into two sections and subsections. The next section, Section 2, presents some general trends of immigrant inflows in the region and in the cities of Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown. Some data on inflow of international students in these cities are also analyzed since international students are viewed as potential skilled immigrants in recent policy initiatives to expand the region’s immigrant population. Detailed analyses of demographic and socioeconomic profiles of resident immigrant and total populations in all six communities are provided in Section 3.

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