Admissions of permanent residents into Nova Scotia dropped by over half last year, mirroring a national decrease in immigration. This is the first decline the province has had after three years of steady growth in immigration.
Government data updated last week shows that Nova Scotia added 3,505 permanent residents in 2020, a decrease of 4,075 from 7,580 admissions in the previous year. Similarly, immigration to Canada dropped by almost half, from 341,175 in 2019 to 184,370 in 2020.
“In the light of the current pandemic, it is something that was expected to happen,” said Ather Akbrari, a Saint Mary’s University economics professor.
Visa applications have been delayed across Canada since the pandemic started. The longer wait time for immigrants to renew or receive their first permanent residence card has left many in distress.
Although a sharp fall in immigration could have implications for the housing market and employment rate, Akbari said the public should focus on the positive side.
“So the first thing that we should remember is that the Nova Scotia economy has been doing well, even during the pandemic,” said Akbrari.
According to a recent labour force survey in January, Nova Scotia is one of the four provinces that had an increase in employment with a 1.7 per cent monthly rise. The only other Atlantic province that had a growth in labour force is P.E.I. The unemployment rate in Nova Scotia also dropped to 8.3 per cent, one point below the national average of 9.4 per cent.
Akbari said the labour force and real estate are performing strongly mainly because of the higher interprovincial migration.
“It’s not a gloomy picture for the province. Because of the low incidence rate, people are considering moving in from other provinces to here. And the real estate demand is high,” said Akbari.
The government data showed the province had a net gain of 1,471 for the third quarter of 2020, the highest the province has seen since the third quarter of 1984. However, the gain was not enough to offset losses in international migration, so the population decreased.