Over the past few years I have received a fair amount of feedback from New Brunswickers about immigration. Among those that have concerns about immigration, when I scratch the surface a little I usually find what they really think is “why would anyone want to purposely move here? We can’t even keep our own young people?”. In other words, they have a jurisdictional self-esteem problem. New Brunswick is the end of the world. Who would want to live here?
According to the 2016 Census, there are just under 25,000 immigrants living in New Brunswick that came to Canada before 2010. Over 11,500 of them came before 1981. And they are still here. Yes, 25,000 immigrants. Settled in New Brunswick and presumably like it here (or at least like enough not to have moved).
The truth is New Brunswick is a perfectly fine place to live. The cost of living, crime rates, commute times, recreation, coastline, food – all pretty good. Sure, there are great places to live all over the place but New Brunswick is fine. It is a small place with the largest urban centre having only 150,000 people so, just like Idaho, Iowa and Manitoba and many other small places, lots of folks leave because their career paths take them away but for those who can pursue their careers here – it’s a pretty fine place to do it.
And immigrants have figured this out, too. 25,000 of them.
So if you are sour on New Brunswick and would like to move away, fine. Canada has one of the most mobile populations (interprovincial migration) among advanced economies. It is easy to move in and move out. If you want to leave, you are free to do so.
But there are hundreds of thousands of people who are building their lives here and like it a lot.
Do we have work to do? Absolutely. Do we need to get better at people attraction and workforce alignment? Absolutely.
But don’t impose your insecurities on new immigrants. If they can settle here, find an economic opportunity that aligns with their skills and interests and build social networks – they will stay and thrive.
Just ask the 25,000 who came here in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.