Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Atlantic Premiers and members of the federal cabinet met in St. Peters Bay, Prince Edward Island. Coming out of that meeting we committed to working together on an Atlantic Growth Strategy and an immigration pilot program in order to grow the economy and support families in our region.

Here in the Atlantic region and certainly in New Brunswick, we face an aging demographic challenge. Now more than ever, it is critical that we retain our young people, bring back Atlantic Canadians to the region and increase the number of new Canadians coming to our four provinces.

The Atlantic Growth Strategy contains targeted actions to stimulate our region’s economy, support both innovative and resource-based industries and increase job opportunities for Atlantic Canadians. The strategy we have developed focuses on five priority areas including skilled workforce and immigration, innovation, clean growth and climate change, trade and investment, and infrastructure.

As a first step in implementing the Atlantic Growth Strategy, we are proud to introduce the immigration pilot program.

The three-year pilot program will help address resource gaps that sectors are facing, help businesses attract and retain global talent, and most importantly, grow our population.

The immigration pilot program will facilitate the entry of 2,000 principal immigrants into our Atlantic region in 2017. That number is expected to grow in the second and third year based on the program’s demand. Principal applicants can bring their family, so the actual number of immigrants arriving in our region could be several times greater. 

Together, we all share the priority of economic growth and job creation. The Atlantic Growth Strategy and immigration pilot program is an important step to growing our region’s labour force and economy.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.