International immigration to Nova Scotia has risen above historic levels in recent years. There was an initial spike between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 due to the influx of Syrian refugees during that period. Immigration levels in the four years following continued to be higher than historic levels. Immigration level increased between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 due to eased COVID-19 travel restrictions.
As with interprovincial migration, international immigration to Nova Scotia has also been affected to some extent by macroeconomic trends in the Canadian economy. During economic growth periods, such as the mid-2000s, immigration to Nova Scotia tends to be lower, as there is a greater pull for immigrants in booming parts of the country like Alberta. During periods of economic slowing or recession, Nova Scotia’s immigration has been stronger. For example, it peaked during the financial crisis in the late-2000s, then declined through the recovery period, and rose again in recent years as the slumping oil market slowed growth in Alberta.
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Note: Date represents change from July 1 in the previous period. For example, data for 2021/2022 reflect the number of immigrants added to the population between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.
Additionally, immigration to Nova Scotia is driven by federally-set caps on the number of immigrants coming into a province through each of the various immigration streams. Even with interest from Nova Scotians in accepting new immigrants and interest from potential immigrants in migrating to the province, ultimately increasing Nova Scotia’s immigration requires increases to the relevant federal caps.
Increases have been made to federal caps on some programs in recent years. In March 2016, for example, the annual cap on Nova Scotia immigrants through the provincial nominee program was increased by 300, bringing the cap for that program for the year up to 1,350.
Immigrants to Nova Scotia are most likely to settle in Halifax, with 78 per cent of immigrants in 2021/2022 landing in the city. Cape Breton, Kings, Colchester and Lunenburg counties receive the second highest number of immigrants in a given year, reflecting 817, 444, 382, and 279 respectively in 2021/2022. Most other counties receive a relatively small number of immigrants each year.
CHANGES TO THE INDICATOR, BASELINE, OR TARGET:
- There were no changes made to the indicator, baseline, or target.
- Contextual numbers were removed from the goal statement. It was assumed that the goal was to close the gap between Nova Scotia’s share of Canadian immigrants and population, not to reach the 7,000 immigrants per year provided for context in the Report of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building our New Economy. This was done to keep the goal consistent in case of future historical revisions to the source data.