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Nova Scotia says a record number of immigrants became permanent residents in 2022

Opposition parties in Nova Scotia say they're concerned the province lacks the housing and health-care resources to support newcomers as immigration to the province reaches new highs.

Jill Balser, minister of labour, skills and immigration, said Thursday that a record 12,650 new permanent residents made Nova Scotia their home last year, surpassing the 2021 total by 38 per cent.

The minister acknowledged that amid the fast growth, the province is challenged by a shortage of housing and a strained health-care system, but she said recruitment of skilled trades workers and health professionals from overseas will help combat those problems.

NDP Leader Claudia Chender called the strong immigration numbers "phenomenal" but said she's worried new Nova Scotians are being left to struggle.

"We are better for all the newcomers that have arrived to Nova Scotia, but we do not have the services to provide for people that live here," Chender said.

She said the province needs to provide a plan for how immigrants to Nova Scotia will access primary health care, schooling, government assistance and housing upon their arrival. "Without that, we're giving people a false promise," she said.

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill is also urging the government to put forward a plan for managing the growth of the province's population.

"I don't know that this government has thought out a plan for immigration in a manageable and sustainable way that isn't going to create issues for the population here, and that is also going to allow folks coming into the province to thrive," he said.

Balser said she has heard residents questioning if Nova Scotia is growing too fast, but she's confident the growth is manageable.

When asked about how newcomers will be able to access health care and housing in a province that has a doctor shortage and a housing crisis, Balser said that "these individuals will be part of the solution."

"We're looking for the talent that's needed. Some of these individuals are going to be the health-care workers that we need, they're going to be working in hospitals," she said, adding that the province is also recruiting skilled tradespeople, which will add to the workforce needed to build housing.

Balser said that since Nova Scotia's population surpassed the one million mark at the end of 2021, it has added an estimated 35,000 additional people. The province intends to hit the "ambitious goal" of reaching two million people by 2060, she said, which it intends to do by recruiting and retaining 25,000 people annually.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2023.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Top Stories

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