Cape Breton Voices | News
archive,category,category-news,category-349,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-13.3,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.9.0,vc_responsive


[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Cape Breton Post | Meaghan Keating, Beth Mason, Jill McPherson, Sarah Pyke, Erika Shea and Dorothy Tennant | February 2, 2018.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Mayor must choose between municipality and leadership race

With a council of 12, a staff of 800 and an annual budget of $147 million, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) is the second largest municipality in Nova Scotia. Consequently, while councillors are paid a stipend for part-time positions, the role of mayor is a full-time, full-year position. As noted in a number of recent interviews, and as evidenced by increased travel across the province, CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke is considering a run for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party. It is our sincere hope that in officially announcing his intentions to seek this alternate position, he does the right thing and resigns as mayor. The PC AGM takes place from February 9-11. While the full details of the leadership race will be unveiled then, the race is expected to last nine to 12 months. That’s nearly a year, an extraordinary length of time to keep your focus on the careful and thorough leadership of a major municipality while also campaigning for the job you now want. Strategically speaking, can one mount a strong province-wide campaign on evenings and weekends alone? Under the Municipal Governance Act, should a mayor vacate his or her seat within two years of the next election, no by-election occurs and the deputy mayor takes over. Thus, if the PC convention happens, as is being predicted, in November 2018, and Mayor Clarke is successful in his bid, we would be left to the devices of the deputy mayor for two and a half years. In contrast, if the mayor makes the ethical choice, resigning upon announcing his candidacy for the provincial position, a by-election would be triggered and we would get a say in who leads us for the remainder of Mayor Clarke’s term. Perhaps the mayor will compare himself to the other contenders for the job, Tim Houston and John Lore, who may continue to serve as MLAs as they vie for the spot at the top. There are, however, some important differences here. as MLAs already elected under the banner of the Progressive Conservative Party, Houston and Lore are not required to maintain clear and consistent non-partisanship in their day jobs. Mayor Clarke is. Second, in their full-time positions, their mandate is already the well being of the Province of Nova Scotia from the perspective of their party. Not so for Mayor Clarke. Municipal politics in Nova Scotia are non-partisan. Mayors are charged with the task of separating personal partisan beliefs they may hold from their elected duties. For Mayor Clarke to pretend that he can actively serve as a full-time non-partisan mayor while also actively running for a partisan leadership position (and return to the former if unsuccessful in the latter) represents a lapse in judgement. And what of his two political staff? In order to move these hirings outside of CBRM’s Human Resources Hiring Policies, the mayor noted in 2012 that these were not CBRM positions, but political positions (to be paid for by the CBRM). Will they also only be working on his provincial campaign on evenings and weekends? We are a poor municipality; poorer, perhaps, than we’ve ever been if we take into account early commentary by CBRM staff on the 2018/2019 budget. Over the next nine to 12 months, we will pay the mayor and his two staff in excess of $200,000. It would be incredibly unethical were any of these resources to be applied to securing the mayor a new job. At the same time it would be unrealistic to pretend that they, as his political staff, won’t be intimately involved in his campaign. Mayor Clarke has been careful to mention in recent interviews that, by his calculations, he has more than five months of vacation time owed to him. If this is so, we would ask that CBRM Human Resources provide documentation of this and that he outline when this time will be taken, and how he will manage the municipality while on vacation for five months. Such an outline is particularly important at a time when the Charter, the port and the second berth remain largely unresolved and largely on his desk. In New Brunswick, sitting mayors must resign their seats should they wish to run for any other political position. Legally, of course, Mayor Clarke can declare that he intends to do both. But just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it is ethical. We wish Mayor Clarke the best of luck in his aspirations for a new position. We just wish, as well, that he acts in accordance with the best interests of residents of the CBRM, the people he has already been elected to serve. Meaghan Keating, Beth Mason, Jill McPherson, Sarah Pyke, Erika Shea and Dorothy Tennant all live in Sydney.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Canada-US Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders | January 17, 2018.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]OTTAWA and WASHINGTON, D.C.; Jan. 17, 2018 – The Canada-US Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders (the Council) has announced recommendations for the first pillar of their groundbreaking bilateral initiative, “Advancing Women in Business.” GE Canada President & CEO, GE Vice President Elyse Allan and NRStor Inc. Chair & CEO Annette Verschuren are leading this pillar, which specifically aims to help growth-minded women entrepreneurs scale up their businesses. “Supporting and Growing Women Owned Businesses” is the first of five pillar reports to be released by the Council. The recommendations of the Council aim to increase the number of female business leaders and entrepreneurs, as well as contribute to the economic development and competitiveness of the Canadian and US economies. Extensive research has proven that women make exceptional entrepreneurs and business leaders. However, the Council found that women face four significant barriers when scaling up their companies: access to growth capital and large contracts; lack of access to talent, networks, and expertise; a different cost-benefit equation when it comes to balancing entrepreneurship and unpaid care (referred to as “family economics”); and persistent social and psychological biases. To overcome these hurdles, the Council has made four recommendations:
  • Challenge accelerators and professional networks to track gender representation and adopt best practices for cultivating women entrepreneurs.
  • Expand the use of private sector supplier diversity programs and increase outreach to women entrepreneurs.
  • Enhance the U.S. Women-Owned Small Business targeted procurement program, implement a similar program in Canada within twelve months, and consider linking the programs once implemented.
  • Look at ways to lower the cost of unpaid care to level the “family economics” playing field for women.
For further information on the first pillar recommendations visit The Council is delivering these recommendations to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald J. Trump as well as the private sector to help reduce the barriers limiting women’s participation in business, supporting their professional advancement and assisting them in starting and scaling their businesses. The Council will release the remaining four pillar reports in intervals through July 2018. The reports will focus on: increasing the number of women in STEM; attracting female entrepreneurs; increasing women’s access to capital; and advancing women as leaders in the private sector. The Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders is comprised of ten of the top female business executives in the United States and Canada. Their mandate is to develop recommendations that can reduce barriers that limit women’s participation in business, support and develop women’s professional advancement, and assist women in starting and scaling their businesses. Their mission is to increase the number of women business leaders and entrepreneurs, and contribute to the economic growth, and competitiveness of the Canadian and US economies. The Council is an independent and autonomous group that makes recommendations to inform the governments as appropriate. The Council is co-chaired by Linda Hasenfratz, Chief Executive Officer of Linamar Corp and Julie Sweet, Chief Executive Officer – North America of Accenture. Elyse Allan is President and CEO, GE Canada and Vice President GE. Elyse has led GE Canada’s growth across its business portfolio while also strategically building GE’s Canadian innovation, digital and production capabilities. She contributes to building Canada’s competitiveness and public policy framework through board work at the C.D. Howe Institute, Conference Board, and MaRS DD while also having served on numerous government advisory boards. In 2014, she was appointed Member of the Order of Canada. Previously her career spanned several industries in the U.S. and Canada. Elyse sits on the Brookfield Asset Management Board of Directors. Annette Verschuren, O.C. is Chair and CEO of NRStor Inc., an energy storage development company. Formerly she was president of The Home Depot Canada and Asia, overseeing the growth of the company’s Canadian operations from 19 to 179 stores between 1996 and 2011. Ms. Verschuren is a board member of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Air Canada, Saputo Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Limited. Her not-for-profit work includes board membership of CAMH Foundation, Rideau Hall Foundation, Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment and the MaRS Discovery District. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and author of Bet On Me.   Contacts: Andrea Van Vugt Business Council Canada +1 613 288 3853 [email protected] Cliff Angelo Accenture +1 512 732 5659 [email protected]

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Cape Breton Post | Nadine Bernard, Chloe Donatelli, Nicole LaFosse, Beth Mason, Amanda McDougall, Jill McPherson, Sarah Pyke, Erika Shea | April 27, 2017.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

We are writing today as a group of women who come together regularly to discuss issues that we see as critical to the survival and transformation of the CBRM: small business development, relations between First Nations and settler communities, immigration, arts and culture, civic engagement, and bureaucratic and political accountability.  

[caption id="attachment_15758" align="alignleft" width="458"]A glimpse of what downtown Sydney could look like if a revitalization plan designed by Ekistics’ is adopted. A glimpse of what downtown Sydney could look like if a revitalization plan designed by Ekistics’ is adopted.[/caption] A few of us had the opportunity to attend the March 28 unveiling of Ekistics’ revitalization plan and renderings for downtown Sydney. We were very encouraged by what was presented.
[caption id="attachment_15759" align="alignleft" width="458"]Letter to the Editor Letter to the Editor[/caption] The plan, undertaken in part to address our cultural obsession with parking, also took into account green spaces, optimal traffic flow and direction, sidewalk width, crosswalk safety, bike lanes, public gathering opportunities, streetscape in-fill and the need for greater residential density in the downtown, among other things. The images and video presented of the downtown of the future were exciting, forward-looking and bold. The plan is estimated to cost $7.5 million and would transform the area extending from the Esplanade on the waterfront up to George Street and bordered on the sides by Dorchester and Townsend streets. Charlotte Street would undergo a complete facelift, with power lines buried underground and a wider one-lane street to allow for wider sidewalks, a bike lane, outdoor dining and seating area and small parks to make it more inviting for people to live and shop. A revitalized downtown heralds many benefits – benefits that are backed-up by years of research and the experiences of other urban areas. Downtowns need people in them; people of all ages, abilities, and income levels – a lot of them a lot of the time. A number of years ago Lodi, California launched a $4.5 million pedestrian-oriented project, including a retrofit of five main street blocks. On the main street, sidewalks were widened, curbs bulbed and street trees, lighting and benches were added. The city credits the improvements with the opening of 60 new businesses, the drop in the vacancy rate from 18 per cent to six per cent, and the 30 per cent increase in downtown sales tax revenues. Similarly, an analysis by ERE Yarmouth and Real Estate Research Corporation found that real estate values over the next 25 years will rise fastest in “smart communities” that incorporate a mix of residential and commercial districts and a “pedestrian-friendly configuration.” One study found that an eight to 15 km/h reduction in traffic speeds (a consideration taken into account in the development of the Ekistics plan) increased adjacent residential property values by roughly 20 per cent. Downtowns often take up as little as one per cent of citywide land area, but attracted 10 or 20 times that in terms of contributing to a city’s assessment base and generating property tax revenues. Here in the CBRM, the municipality, province and federal government have each invested a significant amount of capital in the development of a second cruise ship berth. A more accessible and welcoming downtown will be key in attracting additional passengers off ships and into our shops and restaurants. It isn’t difficult to imagine that a combination of the two, a revitalized downtown and growth in the cruise industry, could lead to the creation of new downtown businesses. We have a bad habit here of being dissuaded from big change (the kind we are in need of on many levels) because of a few details. What a shame it would be to move, even a little, away from the bright, accessible, vibrant downtown presented by Ekistics – and the welcome change it represents – because of parking or unloading. If downtowns that are far more commercially dense than ours have come to grips with these details of doing business in a downtown, surely we can find our way; one that doesn’t involve throwing the baby out with the bath water. Change isn’t always easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t warranted. The conclusions presented by Ekistics largely reflect the views shared with them throughout the development of the revitalization plan. It comes as no surprise that the response to calls for input was strong, confirming the community’s desire to see real changes made in the downtown and to be actively involved in the process. We would encourage municipal staff and council continue to understand the importance of drawing from the wisdom and experience of community residents who live, work and play in the downtown core, and offer further opportunities for engagement throughout the redevelopment process. Changing the atmosphere of our downtown is in itself not the solution to all of our problems. We also need much more immigration than we’ve ever had in the past, we need to begin to genuinely learn from and follow the lead of our First Nations communities, and we need to support small businesses in a way that puts their needs and success ahead of the needs and success of business support organizations. But this is a good start. A very, very good start. One that we can’t afford to lose to a few of the smaller details. And one that municipal staff and councillors should be commended for leading.   Nadine Bernard, Chloe Donatelli, Nicole LaFosse, Beth Mason, Amanda McDougall, Jill McPherson, Sarah Pyke, Erika Shea CBRM

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Cape Breton Post | Nadine Bernard, Chloe Donatelli, Dr. Beth Mason, Jill McPherson, Sarah Pyke, Dorothy Tennant | November 06, 2017.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]We watched with interest on Wednesday evening as New Dawn presented the Centre for Arts, Culture and Innovation to the general committee meeting of Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) council. If you are a regular reader of these pages you’ll know that last week, the Department of Canadian Heritage awarded the project $5 million. A few months before that, the provincial government awarded the project $3.2 million. The Centre for Arts, Culture and Innovation proposes to provide studio and work space for 150 artists and innovators and spaces for workshops, events, and presentations for tenants and for the community. Council was being asked for a capital contribution of $1.5 million and to work with New Dawn to arrive at a tax agreement that wouldn’t hinder the project’s success. The ensuing discussion was at times enlightening, at times encouraging and, at times, confusing. Seeing the project pitted against the Ekistics Urban Core Revitalization plan certainly fell into the latter. At the heart of the Ekistics plan is our need to attract people and businesses into the downtown. An “if you build it, they will come” approach. If you modernize the streets and sidewalks and greenspaces on Charlotte Street, it becomes a more attractive place for businesses to set-up shop and for people to frequent. For us, this plan gets all of the thumbs up. It represents the type of thinking and type of change we need. When we reflect on what the New Dawn Centre has done in the last four years, and what it proposes to do on a much larger scale in the future – bring more people and businesses into the downtown – it does seem like a bit of a revitalization victory. Adding to the confusion of pitting a plan to revitalize downtown against a project that revitalizes downtown, was the question of how they might relate to – or compromise – one another in the budget. Councillor Eldon MacDonald noted that he could not make a decision on financial support for the New Dawn budget outside of council’s planned budget deliberations, lest the former jeopardize the latter. Based on our observations of the meeting, it sounds like the CBRM could fund the downtown revitalization work (improvements in CBRM-owned infrastructure) from its capital budget and a project like the Centre for Arts, Culture and Innovation (property isn’t owned by the CBRM) from its operating budget thereby ensuring, if so desired, that both could proceed. Like a great Greek tragedy, this Wednesday night epic was not without its heroes. Kudos to those councillors who saw in this project economic development possibilities and themes and features consistent recent CBRM-published and funded studies on the creative economy, the downtown, and the second cruise berth. And to those same councillors who acknowledge that this was a project with more than 75 per cent of its funding already committed and one being presented to council by a reputable and long-standing non-for-profit community organization. We call on council to give this project the fair and deep consideration it deserves, to find a way to make the requested capital contribution, and to genuinely work with New Dawn to arrive at a creative, might we be so bold as to say innovative, tax approach that will make this project possible. The work of our council and councillors is not easy. They are regularly asked, on our behalf, to make difficult decisions that involve saying no to something in order to say yes to something else. And while no major economic development project is going to be all good or all easy or all obvious with no trade-offs and no compromises, this one comes pretty darn close. Nadine Bernard, Chloe Donatelli, Dr. Beth Mason, Jill McPherson, Sarah Pyke, Dorothy Tennant Sydney

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Cape Breton Post | Joanne Pyke, Sarah Pyke | January 22, 2018.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Consumers are aware of negative effects of unhealthy living and want to make positive life changes

It is no secret that tourism is critical to our island. Cape Breton is known for its rugged, natural beauty and has been recognized as the No. 1 island destination in North America and the No. 3 island destination in the world. Contemporary research proposes that consumers are now looking to incorporate well-being into their holidays. The literature also suggests that proximity to the ocean and greenery contributes the most to enhancing our well-being. Given this change in consumer climate and a focus on natural environments there is a unique opportunity for Cape Breton to shine. With our authentic scenery and charm, is there really a better wellness-enhancing destination than Cape Breton? It has been suggested that wellness (or well-being) is nearly a $2-trillion global industry with close to 300 million wellness consumers. When asked what people do to enhance or maintain wellness, respondents demonstrated that “taking a holiday, vacation or retreat” is ranked fourth, behind exercising, eating better and visiting a spa. These results indicate the perceived value that consumers place on tourism’s contribution to their well-being. Furthermore, this suggests that consumers view tourism as an activity, which enhances or maintains a healthly lifestyle. Consumers today are aware of the negative effects of unhealthy living and are seeking ways to make positive life changes. People are altering their way of life to become healthier and this is being reflected in local business offerings and town planning. Customers are incorporating more well-being activities into their daily lives and are seeking to continue this routine while on holiday… and it is no wonder. We can’t turn on the television, listen to the radio or browse social media channels without being constantly subjected to information, which stresses the need to become more active and healthier. This new consumer climate has the power to expand the health and well-being tourism market. In the past holidays were much more about eating and drinking, but not anymore. There are many people now incorporating activities into their holidays that contribute to their well-being. Consumers are currently exposed to countless options when choosing a holiday. As a result, unique marketing becomes essential to the survival of destinations by finding innovative ways to set themselves apart from the growing competition. One way in which this differentiation can be achieved is for destinations to embed a well-being philosophy in their marketing and promotional strategies. Some destinations have capitalized on their natural resources to identify a notion of personalized well-being such as the Nordic countries, which have been rebranded as places perfect for making visitors feel healthier. This then allows branding and/or marketing strategies to naturally develop a well-being philosophy. The growing concepts of blue gym, green gym have been given close research attention, particularly in Europe. Blue gym, green gym is underpinned by the notion that natural environments are positively linked to increased well-being, as individuals are considerably more content in natural, rural settings when compared to artificial, urban surroundings. It has been documented that time invested outdoors supports and boosts an individual’s health and well-being, and as such allows individuals to blossom. Even those who cannot afford to live near the coast often choose to take holidays near the sea to reap the benefits. This reality of rest and recuperation associated with being near natural environments dates back in history, as Victorians were often sent to coastal destinations to recover from illness. The concepts of blue gym, green gym have provided an opportunity for businesses to grow the visitor economy by incorporating the well-being element into their product offering to create a new image and drive the market. There is significant value provided to individuals through the benefits of natural environments and this is beginning to be reflected in business operations. The concept of well-being has been identified by the World Health Organization as a topic which is important for a global society. Exploring the potential synergies between the fields of public health and tourism around the concept of well-being is an emerging area of interest. Since then, tourism has also adopted a position of exploring well-being from a product differentiation perspective and increasing competitiveness with respect to destination marketing and management. Our island can be marketed as a well-being (or wellness) destination due to its natural environment of beaches, wildlife and greenery, in addition to the unique culture and friendly people. By embedding a health and well-being philosophy for Cape Breton, more individuals may potentially engage in local tourism and the economic benefits will follow. All About Business is a monthly column on challenges and opportunities for the Cape Breton business community, written by faculty of the Shannon School of Business, Cape Breton University. Dr. Joanne Pyke is an associate professor-marketing at the Shannon School of Business, CBU, and Dr. Sarah Pyke, a CBU graduate, is VP marketing at Harbr Inc.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Regina Leader-Post | Craig Baird | June 15, 2017.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]The population of Saskatchewan continues to grow with each passing year according to new figures released by the provincial government. Over the past year, 16,047 people moved to the province, representing a growth rate of 1.4 per cent. While inter-provincial immigration to Saskatchewan is actually in the negative, international immigration is filling the void and helping to increase the province’s population. Over the past year, 16,047 people moved to the province, representing a growth rate of 1.4 per cent. Very little of this growth comes from births in the province, according to Ken Rasmussen, a Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy professor at the University of Regina. “Our birth rates aren’t up particularly high,” Rasmussen said. “It is not natural population growth or replacement. It is immigration growth. It is the same across Canada.” Since 2007, Saskatchewan’s population has grown by 164,000 people, reaching 1,161,365 in the first quarter of 2017, thanks in large part to the economic climate of the province. “(Saskatchewan) is a more affordable location, with cheaper housing prices and our economy is more diversified than other economies,” said Rasmussen. “Some of it is people coming back to Saskatchewan, where opportunities are more robust than in a place like Alberta.” Saskatchewan’s population growth is currently the third-highest in the country, behind only Ontario and Manitoba. “People will move to where there are other opportunities across the country, particularly with immigrants who don’t have deep roots here,” Rasmussen said. “There is no guarantee this will stay as an ongoing feature for Saskatchewan.” According to Doug Elliott, statistician and publisher of Sask Trends Monitor, immigration from other provinces in the first quarter of 2017 was 1,395 in the negative, while international immigration brought 3,560 people into the province. “That is why we are growing,” said Elliott. “We are still immigrating and bringing people from other countries.” The growth rate may look good but Jason Childs, associate professor of economics at the University of Regina, says it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. “You have to be careful with growth rates because we have a lower base,” Childs said. “Comparing growth rates is sketchy at times. A town of 100 people grows by 10 per cent, that is 10 people moving in. We always have to be cautious about growth rates.” While the growth trend continues, the current figure is lower than was seen in previous years. Growth from 2007 to 2008 passed 18,000 in a year, while 22,154 people moved to the province between 2011 and 2012. From 2013 to 2014, growth was just over 19,000 people. “We are going to slow down as the economy slows down,” Childs said. “As the economy picks up again, we could return to higher numbers.” “Fundamentally, our population is driven by the economy,” Elliott said. “If the economy improves, the figures will continue to improve. If we are not creating more jobs, this will start to slow … my expectation is that it will slow a bit.” A slowing of growth, according to Childs, is not a bad thing. “The way Saskatoon and Regina have been growing over the past few years, a pause for breath is not bad,” he said. “We have to make sure we are ahead on infrastructure and we have to make sure we have water treatment and water for all these people.”

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]CBC News | Philip Drost | June 15, 2017.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Alex LeBlanc of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council calls for municipal nominee program

Municipalities need more power to make decisions about immigration, the head of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council told a Commons committee on Wednesday. "Where immigration is controlled at a federal level, integration happens at a local level," Alex LeBlanc, the executive director of the council, said in a presentation to the standing committee on citizenship and immigration. "Really, it's our cities, it's our communities that are the brokers for inclusion." He proposed a municipal nominee program, similar to the provincial nominee program, which allows skilled workers and business people chosen from around the world to get into a faster track toward settling into a province that needs them in the workforce.

Calls for pilot municipal project

"Give cities the responsibility of selecting people, in partnership with employers, and then give cities a greater role in the integration and retention process," said LeBlanc, who was asked to speak to the committee about immigration to Atlantic Canada. Using the provincial program, New Brunswick has brought in 625 immigrants a year to answer certain workforce needs, "and this program has dramatically increased the traffic to New Brunswick," LeBlanc said. But LeBlanc wants a municipal program to complement the provincial one, and he recommended running a pilot project in New Brunswick. "We could use the same structure that we have in place now with the provincial nominee program, but perhaps receive an additional allocation from the federal government which is earmarked to pilot a municipal approach," he said. "Then it will be up to the cities to allocate any kind of resource staff time to do some of this work."

Municipalities interested

[caption id="attachment_15711" align="alignright" width="300"]Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard supports a pilot program to get municipalities more involved in bringing immigrants to their communities. (CBC)[/caption] LeBlanc said if nothing is done, the population problem in New Brunswick won't go away.
"We represent 6.6 per cent per cent of the population in the country, and yet 3.1 per cent of immigrants that are coming to Canada are coming to our region," said LeBlanc. He's already talked to people in municipalities across New Brunswick and been able to gather interest. Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard agreed with the idea to increase the role of the municipalities.

Local input would help

"If a pilot project would be set up in the province or in Atlantic Canada, I'm pretty sure it would be welcome by most of municipalities who are already looking to the immigration file to get their demographics in a better way," Simard said. He said that if the pilot program worked in conjunction with the current provincial nominee program, it would be a benefit to communities. "It's just a matter of adding more input on a local level in order to fit the profiles of the prospective immigrants in a better way," said Simard.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]CBC News | Kevin Yarr | May 4, 2017.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]The P.E.I. economy recorded its biggest growth since 2004 last year, and the third highest growth amongst the provinces. The economy grew 2.4 per cent in 2016, compared to a national rate of 1.3 per cent. In a news release, the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce described the economic growth as a team effort. [caption id="attachment_15714" align="alignright" width="300"]The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the Island's recent economic growth, says Pam Williams. (Laura Meader/CBC) The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the Island's recent economic growth, says Pam Williams. (Laura Meader/CBC)[/caption] "This growth is a testament to the astute business leaders and entrepreneurs in the province, the positive effects of immigration, and the alignment of efforts by the business community and governments at all levels," said president Pam Williams. The provincial GDP, worth $4.8 billion in 2016, remains largely service based. About three quarters of the value of the economy is from service industries, a proportion that has fluctuated but remained largely unchanged over the last decade. Sectors that saw notable increases in 2016 included
  • Construction: +9.3 per cent.
  • Manufacturing: +3.7 per cent
  • Retail: +3.2 per cent
  • Accommodation and food services: +4.2 per cent.
Agriculture and fisheries was one of the few significant sectors to see a decline, down 1.8 per cent.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Chronicle Herald | May 26, 2017.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]The latest census numbers released by Statistics Canada did not provide a rosy picture of what lies ahead in Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada. It showed that between 2011 and 2016 the Atlantic provinces experienced the largest drop in the country in the proportion of people aged 15-64. While the percentage of people aged 65 and older was 12.3 per cent in Alberta, it was almost 20 per cent in Atlantic Canada. If anyone wasn’t attuned the fact already, these numbers tell us how important it is to attract more immgrants to this region and to retain them. Immigrants arrived at record pace in 2016, due in large part to an influx of Syrian refugees. The challenge is to make strong immigration a regular occurrence in the region, and not an exception or only related to an humanitarian crisis, as important as it is for us to provide refuge in such cases. Statstics Canada said if current trends continue, “this difference between the provinces with the highest and lowest proportions of seniors could reach almost 15 percentage points by 2031.” Population growth is essential to sustaining a labour force, providing markets for business, supporting public services and maintaining a viable tax base. Population growth has a major impact on whether people are able sell homes, properties and businesses and on the prices they can get for them. Shortages of labour and a glut of properties on the market, with too few buyers to take them off, are not the conditions of a prosperous future. To offset an aging population and declining birth rates, this province and region need to embrace immigration. The province’s population is expected to decline over the next two decades. Welcoming more immigrants is an integral part of future economic growth. More than 3,418 immigrants touched down in Nova Scotia in the first six months of last year, an improvement over the 3,403 of 2015, which was itself a record year. So we are making progress. But the census brings home how far we have to go. We need immigration to provide stronger and more consistent economic performance. Like retaining young people born here, immigration is an investment in future growth and in new ideas and energy that diversify and strengthen social and economic fabric. Immigration and youth retention reinforce each other, each creating a stronger economic base that helps the other to make a life here. We should do all we can to help both achieve that.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]New Dawn's Goal? 2,000 Newcomers Per Year | Mary Campbell | November 15, 2017.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type="normal"][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text] [caption id="attachment_15734" align="alignright" width="266"]Erika Shea, vice president of development for New Dawn Enterprises Erika Shea[/caption] Erika Shea, vice president of development for New Dawn Enterprises, says the community development organization plays two roles when it comes to immigration in Cape Breton. The first is as the home of the Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration, which employs one of three settlement services counselors on the island, is funded by the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, opened on 1 April 2016 and grew out of the Rural-Urban Immigration Pilot for Cape Breton (which the Spectatordiscussed with CBRM Councilor Amanda McDougall, who had worked on it, in the first installment of this series.) Shea, who spoke to me at New Dawn’s Townsend Street offices last week, said the Rural-Urban project “identified the need for more settlement services face-to-face on the ground in Cape Breton” and, as a result, the island now has three settlement counselors — one at New Dawn;  a second employed through the Halifax-based YREACH program at the YMCA in Sydney and a third employed through YREACH in Port Hawkesbury. The role of such counselors is to help immigrants to Cape Breton “get to know the community and get oriented,” said Shea:
Once newcomers arrive in the community, as long as they have their PR [permanent residency] or they’ve made application for their PR…or if they’re an applicant in the new Atlantic Immigration Pilot, then our settlement counselor can help them with housing, transportation, enrolling their kids in school, getting healthcare, a health card, driver’s license, grocery store…
Of course, immigrants to Cape Breton don’t all settle near settlement services counselors. I asked Shea what services were available to newcomers located in some of the island’s more far-flung communities:
Our settlement counselor and the settlement counselor in Port Hawkesbury both have a lot of discretion and budget so that they’re able to travel across the island and that’s been a role that we’ve really picked up with the Syrian families, in particular, who have kind of settled all over the place. Our settlement counselor will travel to Mabou, Port Hood, Chéticamp, periodically, to check in with them and provide the resources that they’re looking for based on the stage of settlement that they’re at at that time.
As you may remember from the first installment in this series, the need for more face-to-face services for immigrants was one of the chief concerns of Councilor McDougall. Another, though, was that the services on offer through the YMCA and the Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration are not available to the hundreds of foreign students studying a Cape Breton University (CBU), many of whom, she said, had expressed interest in staying here. McDougall laid the blame at the feet of the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, which she said does not see foreign students as potential immigrants. It’s a concern New Dawn shares, says Shea:
[W]e would absolutely see [foreign students] as potential immigrants but it doesn’t fit the nice, neat boxes of the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration. [Students] don’t have their permanent residency permits because they are students who are studying in the country. Now, if those students make it through their education, they graduate and they decide that they are going to give this a try, life in Cape Breton, and they get their post-graduate work permit…at that point, our settlement counselor can then start working with them. But…it seems a little bit absurd that we would not be able to intervene and to begin the connection process the second that their plane lands at the airport. If we are desperate for people and they are here and they are prospective future residents…we should be connecting them with employers, identifying those businesses that are projecting a real succession problem in the next two to five years and, through their studies or through part-time employment, begin making those connections and helping those relationships to flourish.

CB Nominee Program

Shea characterizes the second role played by New Dawn in Cape Breton immigration as “a broader organizational mission and vision based on interest in depopulation and immigration.”
As a community development organization whose vision is a self-reliant people in a vibrant community, it becomes increasingly impossible for us, at…both an emotional and an intellectual level, not to be dealing with depopulation and immigration. So, we’ve assembled a small, internal team and have held a number of small, intentional community conversations about what is going on with depopulation and with the way in which the Nova Scotia government is administering immigration for the province.
As a result of these deliberations, New Dawn has spent the last year working to generate interest in a regional nominee program. It’s an idea the Spectator began exploring last week with McDougall, who made a pitch for it to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in October. Shea says New Dawn has been pitching it to local councils. The evening before we spoke, they’d been in Port Hawkesbury where she said the idea met a warm reception:
[W]e thought that we would really have to go out and sell…this nominee program and it was going to be quite an uphill journey…and it’s been such the opposite. When we started talking about our depopulation challenges and when we talk about our position — that we think that we need more authority to be able to attract the types and numbers of immigrants that we need — …it resonates immediately in a way that you know they’ve been thinking the same thing for a long, long time.
No discussion of Cape Breton population is complete without scary graphics, so here are a few from New Dawn’s regional nominee program pitch: