Atlantic Canada’s growth strategy to focus on tourism, immigration to help build the region’s economy

Published on July 11, 2017

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball and federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains discuss the latest developments with the Atlantic Growth Strategy at a news conference at Humber Valley Resort in western Newfoundland Tuesday afternoon.

©Gary Kean/ The Western Star

Whether they come as tourists or as people wishing to take up residence, the provinces of Atlantic Canada are looking outside the region to bolster their collective economy.

Representatives from the Atlantic Canadian governments, along with a handful of federal cabinet ministers, met in western Newfoundland this week to review and discuss progress of the Atlantic Growth Strategy.

At a news conference at the Humber Valley Resort Tuesday afternoon, they provided some insight into how the effort to stimulate the region’s economy was going.

In addition to continuing to help established industries and emerging industries, the ministers and premiers announced funding to the tune of $24.5 million to help better market Atlantic Canada as a tourist destination.

Also announced was a dedicated service team of 12 federal government workers, some located in each of the four Atlantic provinces, to help support the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program initially announced one year ago.

According to federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, who is also the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the money being invested in the tourism industry is expected to create 200 new businesses and 6,000 new jobs in the next three years.

In fact, he said those numbers are conservative.

“These bold actions and results show that, when we work together and we collaborate and we have a common vision, we can achieve a lot when it comes to the growth of this vibrant region,” said Bains.

There were no specifics on how the money would be spent or a breakdown of how much will go to each region. Bains said funding details will depend on what opportunities are identified, but the object will be to market the entire Atlantic region as a whole.

“It’s not about how we’re going to slice up the pie,” he said. “It’s really about how can we grow the pie and how can we actually create more growth and opportunities for this region as a whole?”

On the immigration front, federal Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen noted how 280 people have been recruited and have applied for provincial endorsement for permanent residency under the pilot program launched in July 2016. Of those numbers, 200 have been endorsed and can now apply for permanent residency.

Also, some 412 employers in Atlantic Canada have become eligible to recruit immigrants to fill job vacancies.

While those numbers are encouraging, he said more can be done and hopes the dedicated service team announced Tuesday will help move the program forward.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said a lot of meaningful work is being done through the collaboration between federal and provincial government colleagues.

“All of this is really about how we deliver services to Atlantic Canadians — to Newfoundlander and Labradorians to me as premier — and also helping create that favorable and successful environment for new and emerging businesses to be successful,” said Ball.