Atlantic Provinces Roll Out International Student Retention Program

The leaders of Atlantic Canadian provinces and federal ministers announce new programs under Atlantic Growth Strategy. Image: Huddle/Inda Intiar

MONCTON – New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces will roll out a Study & Stay program that has already been piloted by Nova Scotia, it was announced Tuesday. The program, part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy, seeks to retain foreign students at Atlantic Canadian universities and colleges.

This will be done by providing services for mentorship, language and soft-skill enhancements.

Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen said the program complements the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program launched in January 2017. Together, they aim to solve the region’s immigrant retention problem.

“One of the key streams in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is the stream targeting international students because they are excellent candidates to become permanent residents and eventually citizens,” he said at a press conference Tuesday.

‘These are people who have post-secondary education, they’re going through our great institutions here, they have work experience and they have proficiency in one or both of our official languages. And because Atlantic Canada has many – so many – high-quality post-secondary institutions, attracting and retaining international students is an important element of the immigration story of this region.”

So far, 900 companies in the region have been designated to employ skilled foreign workers and international graduates under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program. The initiative has recruited more than 1,300 skilled immigrants and international students, while more than 1,100 workers have received job offers and can apply for permanent residency, said Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, third from the left, attended meetings in Moncton Tuesday.

Hussen said the programs make Atlantic Canada more competitive in the global competition for talent. They encourage employers to help workers immigrate with their families and provide quicker and easier paths to permanent residency.

In its pilot Study and Stay program, Nova Scotia received inquiries from 700 interested students, with 49 selected to take part in the first cohort.

Karen Casey, the Deputy Premier of Nova Scotia and Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, said the province plans to add more. She said the program will be amended to fit with each province’s needs.

“We certainly want to make sure as a result of this expansion that the provinces here can build on, but modify the program to meet the needs within their own province, other provinces would do that as well.”

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan said the program will be implemented in the next academic year. Funding will come from the provinces, the federal government and ACOA.

Atlantic leaders announce China mission

As part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy, the provincial leaders and federal ministers also announced a multi-sector trade and investment mission to China to take place in the first two weeks of November.

“China is Atlantic Canada’s largest trading partner in Asia. In 2016, exports to China from Atlantic Canada were valued at over $1.1 billion, a 14 per cent increase from the previous year. We expect that growth to continue and we think in fact that growth can be helped even more,” said LeBlanc.

The trade mission, which coincides with the Canada-China Year of Tourism, targets Atlantic Canadian businesses in the food and beverage, clean growth, education and tourism sectors. ACOA will help in the recruitment of businesses and educational institutions for the program, which aims to:

  • Facilitate market access for export-ready small- and medium-sized businesses in Atlantic Canada that have the ability to do business in China;
  • Create opportunities to promote trade and investment in Atlantic Canada’s food and clean growth products;
  • Promote Atlantic Canadian educational institutions to Chinese students;
  • Promote Canada as a prime tourism destination; and
  • Bolster people-to-people relations between Canada and China.

“This trade and investment mission is part of creating the most favourable conditions for Atlantic Canadian businesses to compete internationally but also to attract foreign invesment essential to our region as well,” LeBlanc said.

Tuesday’s announcement also included a discussion on the Ocean’s Supercluster, part of Ottawa’s $950-million Innovation Superclusters Initiative. Atlantic Canada is the target region for the program, a private sector-led initiative aimed at technologies related to clean energy, fisheries, aquaculture, oil and gas, and defence.

“We’re playing on our strengths. Atlantic Canada knows ocean,” said Seamus O’Regan, the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.

Ottawa is expected to match at least $150 million of private sector investments. The initiative is expected to create 3,000 jobs and generate $14 billion in GDP over 10 years.