Nova Scotia nears a population milestone

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Jatender Sachdev and his wife Poonam, daughter Saachi and son Ronith outside their home in Bedford, NS on November 13.Carolina Andrade /

Jatender Sachdev does not need to consult immigration statistics to know that Nova Scotia is growing and changing. He just has to go to Walmart.

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Mr. Sachdev, who immigrated to Halifax from India in 2016, says the demographic change taking place in his adopted province is evident from walking through his local shopping centre.

“I used to see a person who looked like me probably every 15 times I went to Walmart. Now, I see them in every aisle, I see them at the counters. The change has been dramatic.”

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Record levels of immigration have helped push Nova Scotia to the brink of a historic population milestone: the one million mark, as part of an unprecedented period of growth for Atlantic Canada’s largest province. According to Statistics Canada’s Population Clock, a real-time model that measures births, deaths, home migration and immigration, the province is less than 600 people away from that goal.

“This is a major psychological milestone,” said Tom Urbaniac, a professor of political science at the University of Cape Breton. “In some communities in Nova Scotia, there will be a buzz around this, as the prevailing paradigm was one of stagnation and in some cases a decline. This represents a change in the narrative.”

In 2013, just 1,474 immigrants landed in Nova Scotia. This year, the number is expected to be closer to 7,000. Mr. Sachdev says he has seen Halifax transform from a relatively quiet east coast city to an increasingly diverse, active urban center of half a million people in just a few years, with new condo towers and construction cranes appearing all the time.



On top of record levels of immigration, Nova Scotia has seen a dramatic increase in inter-provincial migration, particularly among people leaving Ontario, Quebec and the Western Provinces during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, about 10,000 more people came to Nova Scotia from other provinces or territories than left-wing Nova Scotia – a dramatic change in traditional population migration patterns in Canada.

That Eastward Movement, some of it driven by people born in the province or attending university there, is fueling a new optimism about the future of Nova Scotia after six straight years of population growth.

“Nova Scotians have always been wanderers. But we also have an incredible homing device. We want those people to come back,” said Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston. “I think people are starting to reevaluate their quality of life And they’re starting to know about what we have here, and they’re saying, ‘That’s what I want.’ ,

Population growth is a key issue for Mr Houston’s Tory government, which seeks to double the number of Nova Scotians to two million by 2060. The premier acknowledges that it will not come without challenges, notably keeping housing prices affordable, building enough schools and helping all those newcomers find family doctors – an issue that played no small role in the August provincial election. played.

Mr Houston says he has focused on “planned growth” and introduced tax breaks for traders under the age of 30, keeping them in the province and maintaining a skilled labor force able to address shortages in the housing supply. Designed to hold. His government has also launched a recruitment program to lure in more doctors and nurses.

“We know there’s a lot to do to prepare our communities for that development. When newcomers come here, they need a doctor, they need to rely on the education system, and they need housing. “We have never had a population growth plan before, and we are trying to learn from those mistakes.”

The premier says it helps that the new federal immigration minister, Sean Fraser, is from rural Nova Scotia, and understands how important newcomers are to the economic future of small towns such as those scattered around his province.

Pro. Trends in remote work, and a growing creative, entrepreneurial class in Nova Scotia also bodes well for future growth, says Urbaniac. There is less reliance on the large, government-subsidized projects of the past, which have created a boom-and-bust cycle.

In Halifax, development is already Pressure on the growing city and it is forcing Nova Scotians to adjust some long-held view of people who “come from afar” versus lifelong “bluenosers”, Prof. Urbaniac said.

“Halifax is now a major city, and it grapples with big city problems such as urban sprawl, public transportation and development fees. We also need to hear about people who recently settled here and those who claim multi-generational roots in Nova Scotia. This artificial gap also has to be bridged.

Many of Nova Scotia’s international arrivals, such as Mr. Sachdev, are arriving through the provincial nominating program, which allows the government to fast-track immigrants in certain areas. The program has grown significantly over the past decade, from just 23 nominees in 2003 to 1,900 people last year.

The federal Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, which helps employers in Atlantic Canada hire foreign skilled workers, has more than doubled the number of people employed in Nova Scotia to 1,617 last year since it began in 2018.

Mr. Sachdev, a father of two who runs a busy real-estate business and sells homes to new Canadians, said many immigrants are turning to Halifax as a safer, more affordable and less busy alternative to larger cities. are attracted. That’s what attracted him and his wife five years ago, and now they can’t imagine living anywhere else.

“When we first arrived, we thought, OK, we’ll try this for another two or three years. Now we have two kids, we have more time with family, and we love being here.”

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