Migrant students contribute to New Brunswick

Published 15/04/2019

Recent immigrants and non-permanent residents in the eastern Canadian providence of New Brunswick added around C$168m to the region’s budget, according to a study commissioned by the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.

The economic impact report shows that through taxes and federal transfers, the around 7,000 recent arrivals have a direct contribution of $516m to the GDP.

“International students do us a huge service, they spend a lot of money here.”

International students had a total impact of $101.8m on the province’s GDP in 2016. Added together with the contributions of recent immigrants in the labour force, the total impact on GDP is just shy of $813m.

According to president of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, Moncef Lakouas, the results indicate that immigration is producing “very positive” results for the province’s economy, but Lakouas maintained more investment is required to “ensure newcomers integrate and stay”.

“More than 64% of the provincial budget relies on how many people are living and working in the province, so it’s impossible to have a credible plan for the economy that doesn’t include a plan to grow the population,” Lakouas added.

In 2018, an unprecedented 4,610 permanent residents arrived in the province, according to Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada figures, with the most moving to Fredericton (1,470) and Moncton (1,440).

“Immigration has increased 26% from 2017 to 2018, so we will be expecting the province’s investment to increase,” said Alex LeBlanc, executive director of NBMC.

Currently the province invests $8.3m in its division leading attraction, integration and retention efforts.

LeBlanc told CBC that the province’s universities are “real draws for newcomers”.

Scott Duguay, associate vice-president of enrolment management for St. Thomas University in Fredericton, said that the province’s universities can work together in international markets to promote New Brunswick as a destination.

“[International students] are extremely important,” Duguay said. “[They] do us a huge service to join us, they spend a lot of money here.”

There are 1,200 fewer graduating high school students in the province, according to Lloyd Henderson, associate vice-president of recruitment and enrolment at the University of New Brunswick.

The declining demographic in the province means that universities “have to look elsewhere”.

“Typically [prospective international students] know Toronto and Vancouver, but they don’t know the east coast of Canada at all,” Henderson explained.

While there is room for growth, according to Henderson – universities want to ensure it remains controlled and sustainable, rather than a “burst”, he added.

“All of a sudden ‘the tail starts to wag the dog’ on what services are going to be provided or needed,” he said.

“In that growth, we want to make sure that we’re continuing to have that diversity of countries so that not all of our students are from a particular area.”

The country recently announced a major international education investment in its federal budget, including money to promote Canadian education abroad with a focus on quality. However, this funding is expected to be used to promote the country as a whole, rather than specific provinces.

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