Decades of migration records are falling as thousands of newcomers settle in New Brunswick

Written by Javed Iqbal

Record international immigration and a historic movement of people from Ontario were the two main factors that tipped New Brunswick’s population over 800,000 earlier this year, new estimates show.

In March, Statistics Canada’s “real-time” population clock for New Brunswick hit 800,000, which was seized by Prime Minister Blaine Higgs as an important moment for the province.

“People all over the country and around the world see the value, opportunity and reward of choosing to live here,” he tweeted at the time.

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released more information on what caused the increase in population, including the arrival of a record 6,581 immigrants to New Brunswick in the year between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

In a scene that has become commonplace in New Brunswick, residents of Grand Manan showed up at the island’s airport earlier this month to welcome an immigrant Ukrainian family. Martha Eaton made two signs with ‘Welcome to Grand Manan’, one in English and one in Ukrainian. (Grand Manan Safe Harbor / Facebook)

This is the largest number of people from other countries who have arrived in New Brunswick in a single 12-month period since registrations began in 1932.

Mohamed Bagha is the executive director of the Saint John Newcomers Center, which helps immigrants adjust to society.

He said it’s a much bigger job now than when he started in 2013, and New Brunswick attracted fewer than 200 immigrants a month.

“We have doubled almost every year,” Bagha said.

There “are challenges” with a large number, he said, but immigrants themselves are generally “ecstatic” about coming to Canada and have been well received in a province that is not as used to seeing newcomers as some others.

Mohamed Bagha, executive director of the Saint John Newcomers Center, says New Brunswick has largely welcomed the record number of immigrants arriving, but he is concerned about the supply of housing for all. (Kirk Pennell / CBC)

“I think it’s getting much, much better,” Bagha said, “there is a more positive attitude in the communities.”

Immigrants added significantly to New Brunswick’s population in the past year, but even as they arrived, the province experienced another but equally historic wave of Canadians moving east.

During the year ending in March, statistics from Statistics Canada show that 10,540 people from Ontario came to New Brunswick alone in search of more space, cheaper housing, or a change in their lifestyle.

It was the largest influx to New Brunswick from a single province in a 12-month period since records for it began in 1952.

Hayley Burrell moved to New Brunswick from London, Ontario., At the beginning of the pandemic. As a real estate agent, she said most of her clients in 2021 were people who came from Ontario, as she did. (Hayley Burrell / Facebook)

And because only 3,005 New Brunswick residents moved back to Ontario in the same period during the same period, the province received a net amount of 7,535 people in the exchange.

Movements between other provinces and New Brunswick were mostly a flush, but between the record of Ontario migration and the record-breaking international immigration that occurred at the same time, population growth in New Brunswick during the year was more than double the Canadian average. .

It is an astonishing development in a province that did not experience any population growth at all for 12 years between 1997 and 2010.

“People are looking at New Brunswick in a new light,” Higgs said in a press release issued in March to mark the arrival of the province’s 800,000. citizen.

“Our province has a lot to offer and people are noticing and taking advantage of the opportunities they see here.”

Fredericton’s U-Haul rental site was regularly crammed with trucks and trailers over the past year, with thousands more people moving into New Brunswick than out. (Shane Fowler / CBC)

However, the effects of the rapid growth have been two-sided.

Many arrivals include younger families, which help to counter the province’s rapidly aging population and fill gaps in the labor market.

New Brunswick’s school enrollment increased by nearly 2,000 this year, with progress in five of the province’s eight districts. And births, which have been declining for seven decades in New Brunswick since the peak in 1948, rose even slightly,

But there have also been problems.

When New Brunswick’s population reached 800,000 in March, Prime Minister Blaine Higgs announced it on Twitter. The rise was driven by international immigrants and Ontarians who moved east. (Blaine Higgs / Twitter)

So many people arriving at one time have left housing shortages, and the cost of renting an apartment or buying a home has quickly escalated in the last year, if any can be found at all.

“Housing is a huge. Huge problem right now,” Bagha said of difficulties immigrants face in finding suitable and affordable places to live.

“Right now, the New Brunswickers have opened their doors and given them space in their houses, but in the end, it will be a challenge to find space.”

It is a threatening problem that requires attention quickly.

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada estimated that the population of New Brunswick is already up to 804,855 since March, an increase of 20,700 over the last 18 months.

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Javed Iqbal

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