Madam Speaker, Canada’s preoccupation with the pursuit of economic growth is happening at the expense of the well-being of newcomers and their families, and the vitality of our communities. Immigrant-serving agencies across New Brunswick are currently working with over 1,800 immigrants who are either under-employed or unemployed as a result of the pandemic. However, the agencies lack the necessary resources and personnel to support these individuals to resume employment and regain the security that we all need to feel at home.
New Brunswick also has a retention problem. Newcomers arrive through the Atlantic immigration pilot project, do their time and then head to larger cities where they can connect with people from their home countries. We are wasting an opportunity to help them create a sense of home in New Brunswick. All communities are built on the interweaving of the lives of their residents. If those people are healthy, happy and connected, the community will thrive.
When we measure people exclusively in dollars and cents, we are not seeing them for the full value they can provide and we are not setting them up for personal success. What if, instead of spinning our wheels on economic immigration, we enable the newcomers already in Canada to bring their families here more easily? What if we made progress on recognizing the foreign credentials of their spouses? What if we streamlined our processes so that it did not take immigrants years to become recognized as a permanent resident, with the security that provides?
If we gave people those tools, perhaps we would have greater success in retaining them.