The province’s move to expand the immigration nominee program to help fill the shortfall of continuing care assistants and truck drivers in Nova Scotia is a good idea but lacks transparency and real targets, says Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston.
Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab announced the three-year Occupations in Demand pilot project on Thursday, saying it would target specific professions, starting with continuing care assistants and truck drivers. Those professions would change based on labour needs.
The pilot project is among eight different streams or entryways for the province to attract skilled newly landed Canadian immigrants to the province. In 2018, the office nominated a record-breaking 1,400 people through the nomination program, said the department.
“We are constantly evaluating our programs to see how we can better respond to what the province needs,” said Metlege Diab, pointing to last year’s record-breaking immigration numbers of 5,970 new permanent residents in Nova Scotia. “We recognize the significant economic contributions immigrants make to our province and expect the changes and new Occupations in Demand pilot to help more businesses prosper.”
But the department did not say how many continuing care positions or truck driver positions it hopes to fill through the pilot project. Department spokeswoman Lynette MacLeod said the program does not have a specific cost, calling it “another tool we can use to better respond to employer and labour market needs.”
Two other streams
The province announced two other streams, Entrepreneur Stream and International Graduate Entrepreneur, are being expanded under the program, which combined with the pilot have been allocated 1,550 spaces by the federal government for 2019.
The professions were chosen because there are recognized labour market needs to attract continuing care assistants and truck drivers, said MacLeod. She also said they are the “top two most in-demand national occupational classification C skill level professions in Nova Scotia.”
Houston said the province’s move to address job shortages in the province is a good thing but Thursday’s announcement is short on details.
“There’s certainly a big need in the continuing care assistants field,” said Houston. “If this is a program that helps fill some positions and helps bring some people to the province who want to be here and will stay here and contribute to our economy that’s a good thing.”
The lack of details, including job targets, is reflective of a government that doesn’t like to be held accountable for its decisions, said Houston.
“This is the way this government works,” he said. “They like to hide information but most of the time they haven’t figured it out themselves. They’re planning for the podium but haven’t thought about one second after that.
“But (this government) is talking about something that’s important to the province so at least they’re acknowledging that. So hopefully there’s some follow through and execution.”