News release

Bill to Create New Immigration Office

The province's first Office of Immigration will work to more than double the number of immigrants moving to the province by 2010. This work is aimed at strengthening the economy and communities, with more skilled workers and new businesses.

The bill to create the office was introduced in the House of Assembly today, April 19.

"Our population is declining, it's aging, and it's moving away from our rural communities," Immigration Minister Rodney MacDonald said. "As more immigrants arrive, we will have new Nova Scotians to open new businesses and to fill those jobs we can't. They will also buy more of our products, help keep our schools open, and bring new energy and ideas to our communities."

Along with increasing the number of immigrants, the goal is to retain at least 70 per cent of new immigrants. That would be up from the current 40 per cent retention rate.

The office will provide leadership in: attracting immigrants, encouraging a welcoming community when those immigrants arrive, helping to integrate immigrants, and retain them.

Since the province's first immigration strategy was released in January, meetings have been ongoing with numerous partners and other levels of government to set priorities for the office. Partners include settlement associations, businesses, municipalities, the federal government, immigrant families, Acadian and Francophone communities, post-secondary institutions, multi-cultural associations, and labour.

"We'll be able to plan more effectively on what services are needed and how they can best be delivered," Mr. MacDonald said. "As well, we can speak with one voice to the federal government about our needs and concerns."

The office will support efforts to more successfully integrate immigrants. For example, the office will work with employers and professional associations so immigrants with professional education and training can have their qualifications recognized, and get to work, without delay.

The office will also work with the school system on ways to support children of immigrants, including language services.

The work will be conducted provincewide, based on the needs of individual communities.

The office is temporarily located on the 15th floor of Maritime Centre in Halifax. It is headed by chief executive officer and deputy minister Robert Fowler and executive director Elizabeth Mills. Office staffing will be finalized once the budget is approved.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

More skilled workers, more new businesses, and thriving communities are why the province plans to more than double the number of immigrants in Nova Scotia by 2010.

A bill to create a new immigration office was tabled in the house of Assembly today (April 19th).

The office also expects to help the province retain 70 per cent of immigrants -- up from 40 per cent.

Immigration Minister Rodney MacDonald says the office must work closely with all immigration partners. Their advice, he says, is what led to the province's first immigration strategy, released in January.

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Contact:

Donna MacDonald
Office of Immigration 902-424-6142 Cell: 902-223-6334 E-mail:
djl            April 19, 2005      2:53 P.M.