Alexandre Silberman
Alexandre Silberman
Alexandre Silberman is a second year student at St. Thomas University, studying digital journalism and new media, political science and communications. Alexandre is originally from Burlington, Vermont, where he has worked for VTDigger.org, a statewide, non-profit news and politics website, and the Burlington Free Press, the region's largest daily newspaper. In April 2017, he was named a finalist for a Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, for a story on allegations of a harmful work environment for high school counselors. Outside of the newsroom, you can likely find Alexandre on the ski slopes or enjoying the outdoors.
September 23, 2018

Parties stay quiet on immigration this provincial election campaign

A banner signed by students outside the UNB campus polling place. | Photo: Alexandre Silberman

Parties have recently shed some light on immigration issues – despite few announcements or public positions on the campaign trail.

The New Brunswick Multicultural Council sent out a five-question survey to each party on immigration. All parties answered all – or some – of the questions, except for the Progressive Conservatives, who failed to respond on time.

The Liberal party focused on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project, a program that expedites the process for receiving permanent residence by working with employers who need work.

Speaking to reporters in Fredericton on Saturday, Gallant said the program is a partnership his government is proud of and is “absolutely” looking to continue. He said the employer-focused nature of the program makes it effective.

“It’s not only helped us ensure we grow our population, but also ensure that we have the workforce we need,” he said.

New Brunswick's 2018 quota for the pilot is 1046 spots for immigrants and refugees. The program launched in March 2017.

Gallant said through investing in initiatives that create more opportunities for young people to stay and work in the province, the economy has grown to its largest level in New Brunswick history. He said the challenge is finding workers for the jobs the province has available.

“We need to have our young people stay here, our families and friends that have left the province come back here and bring in new Canadians to the province,” Gallant said. “We need all three of these tracks to be going on full cylinders at the same time for us to be able to grow our population.”

Liberal Premier Brian Gallant speaks with reporters during a campaign stop in Fredericton on Saturday, Sept. 22. | Photo: Isabelle Leger

The People’s Alliance answered only one question about population growth and immigration goals.

“The People’s Alliance supports our immigrant community as well as the need to fill vacant job postings with skilled immigrants. We believe in the variety of cultures that make New Brunswick rich and vibrant and we will continue to work with those who are new to this province,” the party responded.

While the Progressive Conservative party did not respond in time, Fredericton South candidate Scott Smith briefly responded to a question about international students during a campus forum last week.

Smith said the party would help students by eliminating double taxation which would make rent and living costs more affordable. Property owners are currently taxed by both municipal and provincial governments on all non-owner occupied residential units.

The Green Party responded by saying it would negotiate with Ottawa for more provincial control over immigration. At a campus forum on Sept. 18, Leader David Coon said a Green government would aim to take over immigration for international students, and have it run by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour through a federal agreement.

MLA for Fredericton South and Green Party Leader David Coon speaks during the postsecondary education forum on Tuesday. To his right is Liberal candidate Susan Holt. | Photo: Maria Nazareth Araujo

“Students who have studied here for four years are well integrated into the community, want to stay in many, many cases and we need to make it as easy as falling off a log,” Coon said.

The Green Party pledged to work to maintain the linguistic proportions of one-third francophone and two-thirds anglophone in the province and centralize services in six regions.

The NDP said its platform commitments of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, free community college and no interest on provincial student loans would attract international students to come and stay in the province.

“We will push the federal government to make New Brunswick an immigrant destination and to increase federal funding in the province. Immigrants must be supported in getting long term stable employment and not just pushed to rural communities without adequate support,” the party responded.

Looking for more local provincial election coverage? Check out our detailed candidate guide.
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