A plan for growth

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Island Premier Robert Ghiz says P.E.I. needs more immigrants; ditto for the rest of Atlantic Canada.

To that end, Ghiz and the Atlantic premiers are urging Ottawa to bestow more control to provincial governments when it comes to immigration.

At the moment, Ottawa caps the number of immigrants each province is allowed to welcome. The number for the Island this year will be about 460.

A few is better than none, but, as the premier says, if we are to prosper we are not going to do it alone. We need immigration.

Most immigrants prefer larger cities. Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver are popular destinations for new arrivals. Not coincidentally, the cities that become home to the most immigrants are also largely prosperous, while those of us in rural Canada continue to struggle under the weight of the economic slowdown that has been hounding us for nearly five years.

Immigration will not cure all that ails us, but a strategic boost in the types of newcomers arriving on P.E.I. would certainly help us grow. Government needs to identify what sectors have growth potential and which existing sectors need help and new life. It is worth noting, too, that it ought not be entirely up to government. The private sector and local communities need to show leadership and have an important role to play when it comes to helping newcomers integrate.

Our traditional population isn’t getting any younger. If we bring in people who will help create industry and growth, we’ll all be better off. P.E.I. needs people with ideas, initiative and capital. Babyboomers taking the slow stroll into the sunset will not cut it when it comes to economic stability.

Ghiz says having more immigrants will translate into more opportunity. Let’s hope so because, unlike many other provinces, the Island can’t rely on its natural resources – mainly because we have few and the ones we do have are waning, not growing.

Unfortunately for the premier it is not as easy as just bringing more people in. They need to see opportunity, and there needs to be support. If newcomers don’t feel welcome and experience success, why would they stay? It’s something all Islanders need to consider.

One thing is for certain, however, with birthrates falling and death rates growing in this province since at least the early 1980s, it’s immigration or bust.

Geographic location: Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto Calgary Vancouver Canada

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