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While rising inflation rates caused in part by soaring fuel and food costs are causing some concern for immigrants who settle in New Brunswick, the province remains one of the most affordable spots to live in the country.

The province had an inflation rate of 8.8 per cent in May (the latest month for which statistics were compiled as of this writing) compared to the national average of 7.7 per cent. Within the Atlantic region, Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest rate at 8.0, while Nova Scotia was tied with its mainland neighbour. Prince Edward Island had the highest rate in the country at 11 per cent.

That is a major change for a province that has longed bill itself as one of the most affordable in the country. A Statistics Canada survey back in 2004 ranked New Brunswick as the most affordable province with the average price of goods 2.1 per cent below the national average.

“While inflation is a concern in New Brunswick, this is not unique to our province,” says Michel LeBlanc, marketing and communications specialist with Opportunities New Brunswick. “Inflationary pressures are being seen across Canada and around the globe.”

Data released in early June by the Canadian Real Estate Association resulted in the province losing its long standing title as the cheapest jurisdiction in the country to purchase a home. The average home price is now $313,700, a 34.2 per cent hike from 2021 and more than double from the start of the pandemic. However, that price still compares favourably to the national benchmark price of $746,146.
According to Statistics Canada, 31 per cent of recent immigrants were spending more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter costs compared to 18 per cent for the general population.

A recent survey conducted by Leger in partnership with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship indicates 23 per cent of new Canadians with a university education responded they were planning to leave the country in the next two years. For those under 35, that number jumps to 35 per cent. Of the 57 per cent of immigrants surveyed who were planning to stay in Canada, the majority were over 55 and had less formal education.

Statistics Canada data indicates the median income for immigrants admitted to Canada in 2018 was $31,900 one year later, 18 per cent lower than the median income of the general population. The Leger survey indicated 64 per cent of new Canadians agreed with the statement “the rising cost of living in Canada means immigrants are less likely to stay in Canada.”

According to the Leger survey, new Canadians were generally better educated, with 81 per cent holding a university degree, compared to 28 per cent of Canada’s general population. Newcomers also earned more, with 48 per cent making an annual salary of at least $80,000, compared to 41 per cent of the general Canadian population. The majority (67 per cent) of the new immigrants had been in the country for less than five years.

“New Brunswick continue to see unprecedented economic and population growth,” LeBlanc says. “We are happy to see that interest in immigrating to the province continues to be very strong.”

The 2021 Census showed the province experienced a growth rate of 5.6 per cent to stand at 789,225.
LeBlanc says the province has been able to record strong success in attracting and retaining a record number of newcomers by actively working with key partners. He says, “Settlement agencies from around the province, employers, community organizations, employment counsellors, and others help ensure newcomers are connected to meaningful employment and required community supports to be able to prosper in the province.”

The top three reasons younger, highly-educated new Canadians gave for not recommending Canada in the Leger poll were current leadership/government (43 per cent); high cost of living (35 per cent), and discrimination/racism (19 per cent). The cost of housing, high taxes, and poor health care were named by 11 per cent.

Daniel Bernhard, CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, says the survey results should be a cause for concern. Bernhard says the data points to a “crisis of confidence” in their adopted country on the part of a significant number of new Canadians. Bernhard says the results should be ringing some alarm bells for both federal and provincial governments.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker has been a journalist in PEI for over 30 years. After a career working for both PEI's daily newspapers, covering everything from the provincial legislature to hockey games, he has been a full-time freelance writer since 1997. Andy has been editor of the Island Farmer, a biweekly publication which covers the agriculture scene, since 2000. He and his wife, Angela, have four adult children and they reside in Cornwall.

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