On the banks of the Saint John River sits a sprawling historic home that has been refurbished into a contemporary yet traditional bed and breakfast.
Newcomer Coral Shuai and her family purchased the home in 2016, hoping to set down roots and create a legacy for their children in a place most immigrants look over for larger cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
“It’s just so quiet and so peaceful and everybody so relaxed and friendly, it’s totally different from where we lived in China,” said Coral Shuai, owner of By the River B&B.
Shuai says the Atlantic regions fast track immigration programs that hire foreign nationals for jobs they haven’t been able to fill locally inspired her to move here.
Shuai like many other immigrants, was inspired to move across the world for an opportunity to own her own business. She was part of a provincial pilot program for entrepreneurs who can demonstrate their ability to invest in a business.
“We came under the entrepreneurship program so that means we need to open a business that means we need to hire somebody so we are not just taking over someone’s job. We are creating jobs for the community,” she said.
Earlier this year the province called for significant increase in immigration to New Brunswick, with a goal to reach 7,500 by 2024, doubling the current number of immigrants in the province.
According to the provincial government, last year there were approximately 4,600 immigrant landings in New Brunswick.
St. Thomas University professor Tom Bateman says the economy in New Brunswick is suffering due to low birth rates and locals moving to big cities.
“It’s been difficult to attract immigrants to New Brunswick and so some very careful provincial and federal coordination on the matter I think is important to New Brunswickers and that will be the subject of debates among candidates running in this province,” said Bateman.
The parties are offering different strategies, the Liberals are pushing to increase the limit to 350,000 newcomers a year. The NDP are calling for a focus on family reunification, the Conservatives say they want to set a cap on immigration, but aren’t saying what that is yet.
The Greens would like to replace the temporary foreign workers program with skilled immigrants, and the Peoples Party of Canada is calling for a cap on “mass immigration”.
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For those who work with new Canadians, having policies that appeal to newcomers is vital, but as New Brunswick faces a declining aging population experts says welcoming newcomers and promoting multiculturalism is the way to bridge the gap.
“We are expecting 120 thousand permanent exits from our workforce in New Brunswick over the next 10 years and we need immigrants to play a role in rejuvenating our work force and contributing to our economy,” Alex LeBlanc, the executive director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.
“For immigrants that’s like an open opportunity you can just take over a successful business and continue your new life here, that’s wonderful,” said Shuai.
Shuai plans to stay in New Brunswick long term and encourages relatives and friends back home to discover Canada’s east coast offerings.