Nova Scotia’s immigration picture uncertain amid pandemic

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Image of immigration lawyer Lee Cohen, shown at his office in 2019, believes the province will enjoy the immigration numbers that it did last year, if not exceed them in 2020. - The Chronicle Herald / File
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Nova Scotia welcomed a record number of immigrants in 2019, setting high expectations for immigration numbers in 2020.

But with travel restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s uncertain whether the province will be able to welcome as many or more immigrants this year than it did last year.

In 2019, the province welcomed 7,580 new permanent residents, surpassing the previous record of 5,970 in 2018.

And Nova Scotia was off to a good start and “certainly on track” to setting a new record in 2020, according to Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab. In the first quarter, the province admitted 1,185 permanent residents, compared to 1,270 in the first quarter of 2019. 

Diab said it’s too soon to tell how COVID-19 will affect immigration numbers in Nova Scotia for the remainder of the year.   

“Going on eight weeks now, and immigration is a long-term process, it obviously takes months for people, once they’re approved and so on to actually land in the country, so at the moment we don’t see that as an issue,” she said. 

“Premature what will happen if this (pandemic) continues months and months, but at the moment we’re continuing to process applications and our staff is all working remotely.” 

She added the province is prioritizing the immigration of essential workers including health-care professionals and truck drivers to address a “shortage of workers in those areas.” 

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