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Continuing to welcome immigrant is crucial to growing Corner Brook and area’s economy, says minister

Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Bernard Davis was the guest speaker at a Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade luncheon in the city Wednesday.
Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Bernard Davis was the guest speaker at a Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade luncheon in the city Wednesday. - Gary Kean
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

The impact immigration has had on Corner Brook’s business history can’t be denied and it’s all the more reason to try and bring more of it to the area.

Family names such as Alteen, Tuma and Swirsky resonate in the downtown area, there have been many Chinese families set up shop in the city through the years and, more recently, businesses such as Louis Gee’s, Pho Vietnam and Mo’s Corner Barber Shop are all the result of folks who have moved here from different countries around the world.

On Wednesday, Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Bernard Davis was guest speaker at a luncheon hosted by the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade. He discussed the progress of the province’s immigration plan introduced in 2017 with a goal of attracting 1,700 newcomers to Newfoundland and Labrador annually by 2022.

Davis said not only are these newcomers filling needs of the labour market, but many are starting up their own businesses and contributing to the economy that way.

Here is some of what Davis had to say:

- “Immigration helps grow the economy. Whether refugees or immigrants, newcomers create demands for local goods and services, thereby supporting the economic growth.”
 

- The current median age of Newfoundland and Labrador’s population is 46, but the median age of immigrants is 29. Corner Brook and the west coast, along with Labrador, are among the leaders in attracting and keeping immigrants and their young families. Davis said research shows immigration has many positive effects on the economy though tax revenues and increasing the gross domestic product.

“This is critical for the cultural, social and economic growth of our province and, in particular, this city. A younger growing population helps sustain schools, child care and all the programs and services our workforce needs.”

- More than 3,700 people have made Newfoundland and Labrador their new home since 2016. Last year, 1,525 newcomers — roughly 90 per cent of the annual goal set by the province to be achieved by 2022 — became permanent residents.

“The immigration action plan is working and we’re making great progress in increasing the number of newcomers to our province.”

- In the next phase of the action plan, government will be expanding immigrant settlement and integration services and the eligibility for them. The province recently added two new dedicated streams for immigrant entrepreneurs to the provincial immigrant nominee program, including one for international graduate entrepreneurs and one for international entrepreneurs in general.

“This will make it easier for more newcomers to establish businesses and create jobs in our province.”

- Attracting people to come to Newfoundland and Labrador is one thing, said Davis. Convincing them to remain here is another important part of the plan.

“Government can’t increase immigration alone. We need to continue to work closely with our partners to achieve a growing population and a more prosperous province … Supporting newcomer retention requires a concerted effort by all orders of government, employers, communities and residents.”

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