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

Some general trends of immigrant inflows and of international students in Atlantic Canada

In this section, immigrant inflow data are analyzed for Atlantic Canada in general and for three Atlantic cities (Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown) in particular. Data on the inflow of international students and on their resident population (stock) are also analyzed for the three cities.

Immigrant inflows in Atlantic Canada (2001-2006)

Phase I of this project analyzed data on immigrant inflows from 1981 until 2001. It was found that immigrant inflows into the region had declined in the late 1990s.  More recent data, as shown in Chart 1 for the period 2001-2006, indicate that more immigrants now come to Atlantic Canada. Between 2001 and 2006, the annual immigrant inflow into the region increased by about 75 percent. The largest increase was in Prince Edward Island, where the annual inflow increased by more than four times (from 134 to 565), followed by New Brunswick, where the annual inflow of immigrants more than doubled (from 798 to 1,646), Nova Scotia, where the inflow rose by about 1.52 times (from 1700 to 2,585), and Newfoundland and Labrador, where the inflow rose by about 1.3 times (from 393 to 511). Given that the annual national inflows remained at about 250,000 during this period, larger immigrant inflows in Atlantic Canada reflect greater participation of the four provinces in the national immigration program, as was discussed in the introductory section above.

Chart 1: Immigrant inflows in Atlantic Canada by province, 2001-2006

Chart 1: Immigrant inflows in Atlantic Canada by province, 2001-2006
Province 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Nova Scotia 1700 1418 1474 1770 1929 2585
Newfoundland & Labrador 393 407 359 579 496 511
Prince Edward Island 134 106 153 310 330 565
New Brunswick 798 706 665 795 1091 1646

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2006 database, special tabulations.

Immigrants’ contribution to population growth in Atlantic Canada

Immigrant inflows in Atlantic Canada have helped slow population decline, and this contribution has increased in recent years. As shown in Table 1, had there been no immigration during 1996-2001, the region’s population decline would have been 16.5 percent higher than the actual decline. During 2001-2006, this decline would have been 93.4 percent higher without immigration.

Table 1: Atlantic population net growth rate and contribution of recent immigrants to the growth of the provincial population, 1996-2006

Period 1996-2001 2001-2006
End of period population 2,285,729* 2,284,779
Population growth -23,881 -950
Growth without immigration (1) -60,800 -14,440
Recent immigrants (2)1 9,940 13,490
Contribution of immigration to population growth [(2/1)×100] (%) 16.3 93.4

*Based on revised census 2001 data published by Statistics Canada.

Source:  Statistics Canada population censuses 2001 and 2006.

General immigration trends: Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown

Chart 2 shows that most immigrants destined to the three selected Atlantic cities go to Halifax.  Halifax experienced a sudden rise in its immigrant inflows in the mid-1990s in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and also due to aggressive immigrant consultants’ activities aimed at recruiting immigrants from the Middle East [ Note 1 ]  However, by 1999, immigrant inflows fell back to their traditional level of about 1,200-1,500 per year. The inflows have picked up since 2003 due to deliberate attempts by provincial and city governments, community organizations and immigrant settlement agencies to attract immigrants to the province of Nova Scotia.

In Charlottetown, which received the fewest immigrants among all three cities during most of the period, inflows have risen since 2003, and in 2006, this city received more immigrants than did Saint John’s. The relatively stagnant immigrant inflow in Saint John’s during the last three years, despite its expanding economic activity, could be explained in part by two reasons: First, the city launched its immigration strategy only in 2006, so the effect of this strategy is not reflected in our data. Second, the city has a small population of immigrants, which is also less diverse than is found in other major cities of Canada. One would expect that the recent rise in immigrant inflows from non-European countries will have a long-term effect of further increasing inflows from those countries.

Chart 2: Immigrants (principal applicants and dependents) destined to Atlantic Canada: Halifax, Saint John's and Charlottetown, 1991-2006

Chart 2: Immigrants (principal applicants and dependents) destined to Atlantic Canada: Halifax, Saint John's and Charlottetown, 1991-2006
  Cities
Halifax St. John's Charlottetown
1991 1217 457 116
1992 1937 563 85
1993 2566 479 118
1994 3147 371 125
1995 3248 447 119
1996 2906 458 123
1997 2627 293 119
1998 1792 303 117
1999 1320 317 99
2000 1332 297 133
2001 1398 299 103
2002 1136 296 70
2003 1115 256 109
2004 1357 424 224
2005 1490 399 233
2006 1916 379 463

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2006 database, special tabulations.

Immigrants destined to the labour force: Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown

Chart 3 shows that immigrants destined to the labour force follow the same trend as do all immigrants (whose trend was shown in Chart 1).  This result indicates that immigration can be used as a major source of labour force growth, which has been adversely affected due to the decline in population growth in Atlantic Canada. A comparative analysis of labour force participation of immigrants and the total resident population will be provided in a later section of this report.

Chart 3: Immigrants destined to the labour force: Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown, 1991-2006
Chart 3: Immigrants destined to the labour force: Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown, 1991-2006
  Halifax St John's Charlottetown
1991 509 305 54
1992 614 356 39
1993 666 277 56
1994 678 199 49
1995 771 272 68
1996 768 283 54
1997 743 176 59
1998 523 144 54
1999 553 168 48
2000 535 161 71
2001 636 144 53
2002 533 155 33
2003 524 145 57
2004 637 198 88
2005 702 194 89
2006 884 200 216

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2006 database, special tabulations.

International Students: Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown

International students form a potential pool of highly skilled immigrants. Attracting international students and retaining them upon graduation is one of the goals of immigration strategies adopted by provincial governments in Atlantic Canada. For example, in 2007, the province of Nova Scotia added the  component of “International Graduate Stream” to its Provincial Nominee Program that fast tracks the landing process for those international students who wish to stay in the province after finishing their studies. The immigration strategy launched by the province of Newfoundland and Labrador supports the efforts of post-secondary institutions and K-12 schools in attracting an increasing number of international students. Memorial University of Newfoundland is a key partner in that strategy. The province of New Brunswick has also signed an agreement with the federal government that makes it easier for foreign graduates in New Brunswick to gain an additional year of work experience in their field of study. This change is expected to help graduates who wish to apply for permanent residence status as skilled workers by providing them with additional points on the selection grid in their area of expertise. Most international students are university students.

Chart 4 shows that Halifax experienced a significant growth in its annual inflow of international students during 1991-2006, while Saint John’s and Charlottetown maintained their inflows at below 200 over the same period. The resident student population (stock as shown in Chart 5) has followed the same trend. One reason for the larger population of international students in Halifax is that three universities in the city actively recruit international students.

Chart 4: Annual inflow of international students: Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown, 1991-2006

Chart 4: Annual inflow of international students: Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown, 1991-2006
  Halifax St. John's Charlottetown
1991 491 174 46
1992 499 133 70
1993 418 108 41
1994 403 95 28
1995 450 86 36
1996 602 124 33
1997 619 142 50
1998 747 130 52
1999 945 136 60
2000 1008 144 67
2001 1197 120 89
2002 1230 147 77
2003 1248 165 88
2004 1186 143 90
2005 1122 201 94
2006 1206 209 123

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2006 database, special tabulations.

Chart 5: Stock of international students (as of 01 December): Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown, 1991-2006

Chart 5: Stock of international students (as of 01 December): Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown, 1991-2006
  Halifax St. John's Charlottetown
1991 1274 431 63
1992 1329 472 81
1993 1333 479 89
1994 1231 446 78
1995 1168 306 84
1996 1255 255 91
1997 1269 248 96
1998 1454 276 107
1999 1760 267 138
2000 1857 242 153
2001 2206 256 183
2002 2529 257 178
2003 2846 329 209
2004 3125 361 233
2005 3164 428 277
2006 3349 495 333

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2006 database, special tabulations.

As shown in Table 2, Chinese students comprise the bulk of international student inflows in the three cities, although in more recent years, the inflow of students from India and Bangladesh has increased, mostly in Saint John’s. The United States has been among the top five source countries of international students in all three cities. As shown in Table 3, the international student population in Halifax, which receives the most, is also the most diverse of all three cities.

Table 2: Top five source countries of international student inflows in three Atlantic Canadian cities, 1991-2006

  Periods
Cities Rank 1991-95 1996-00 2001-06
Country Count Country Count Country Count
Halifax 1 U.S.A 221 Korea 330 China 1249
2 China 164 U.S.A 296 Korea 869
3 Hong Kong 137 Japan 262 U.S.A 421
4 Bermuda 128 Mexico 211 Japan 383
5 Japan 109 Brazil 118 Germany 298
St. John's 1 China 111 China 109 China 331
2 Malaysia 56 U.S.A 91 U.S.A 71
3 U.S.A 54 U.K. 64 India 60
4 U.K 54 India 35 Bangladesh 58
5 Hong Kong 33 Germany 21 Zimbabwe 13
Charlottetown 1 U.S.A 89 U.S.A 98 U.S.A 159
2 Malaysia 36 Japan 31 Korea 57
3 *   Korea 10 China 36
4 *   Mexico 6 Japan 18
5 *   France 5 Australia 11

*Data suppressed due to privacy considerations.

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2006 database, special tabulations.


1 A detailed discussion can be found in Akbari, A., S. Lynch, T. McDonald and W. Rankaduwa. 2007. Socioeconomic and Demographic Profiles of Immigrants in Atlantic Canada (available on www.atlantic.metropolis.net).

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