Nova Scotia is Canada’s second-smallest province in area, after Prince Edward Island. The province’s mainland is the Nova Scotia peninsula, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and including numerous bays and estuaries. Nowhere in Nova Scotia is more than 67 km (42 mi) from the ocean. Cape Breton Island, a large island to the northeast of the Nova Scotia mainland, is also part of the province, as is Sable Island, a small island notorious for being the site of offshore shipwrecks, approximately 175 km (110 mi) from the province’s southern coast.

Nova Scotia has many ancient fossil-bearing rock formations. These formations are particularly rich on the Bay of Fundy’s shores. Blue Beach near Hantsport, Joggins Fossil Cliffs, on the Bay of Fundy’s shores, has yielded an abundance of Carboniferous-age fossils. Wasson’s Bluff, near the town of Parrsboro, has yielded both Triassic- and Jurassic-age fossils. The highest point is White Hill at 533m (1,749 ft) above sea level, situated amongst the Cape Breton Highlands in the far north of the province.

Nova Scotia marks a major population milestone as the province surpasses one million people, following record growth since July 2021.

“Reaching the one million mark is a significant moment in our province’s history. After years of a declining population, the world is learning how special Nova Scotia is; we have momentum and are growing,” said Premier Tim Houston. “More people make us stronger in every way. We all benefit from this growth with a greater tax base, new businesses and jobs, greater diversity and culture and improved infrastructure. I ask our citizens, employers, communities, schools and workplaces to open their arms to new Nova Scotians and provide a warm welcome to all who choose our spectacular province as their home.”

A key priority for government, as identified in Ministers’ mandate letters, is economic growth. In collaboration across the government, with businesses, communities and other stakeholders, the Province is working to attract and retain more young people, entrepreneurs and skilled workers who deliver essential services such as healthcare, education and construction.

Immigration has played a large part in growing the population in Nova Scotia. The Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration continues to work with employers to find innovative ways to respond to current and emerging needs in occupations where there are shortages and help to streamline the immigration process.

To grow Nova Scotia’s population to two million by 2060, the Province aims to attract 25,000 newcomers per year through a combination of migration from other parts of Canada and strategic immigration efforts.

While Canada’s real-time population clock website is currently offline, Statistics Canada’s The Daily report for today, December 16, indicates Nova Scotia has surpassed one million.

Nova Scotia immigration programs

There are a number of immigration programs specifically for people who want to move to Nova Scotia.

Canada’s main immigration pathway, Express Entry, is open to anyone who wants to live in any Canadian province other than Quebec. To immigrate through Express Entry, you need to be eligible for one of the three Federal High Skilled immigration programs: Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker Program, or the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Nova Scotia also has its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Express Entry candidates may be eligible for such PNPs as the Nova Scotia Experience Express Entry, Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities, or the Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities for Physicians.

The Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program (NSPNP) also offers programs for those who are not eligible for Express Entry. Workers may be eligible for the following three programs: Skilled Worker, Occupation In-Demand, and Physician Stream.

There are also two streams that are specifically for entrepreneurs: the Entrepreneur Stream and the International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream.

Then there is the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), which includes Nova Scotia as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Employers in these provinces can use the AIP to hire foreign talent, and set them up with a settlement plan. An early study of the pilot suggests that the settlement plans are already helping to improve retention rates.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, who is from Nova Scotia, recently announced that the AIP will become a permanent program in the new year.

Nova Scotia Wants To Double Population By 2060

Nova Scotia is hoping to double its population over the next 38 years by attracting 25,000 newcomers per year both through immigration and by attracting newcomers from other parts of Canada.

The province’s Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration is working with employers to find innovative ways to resolve labour shortages and streamline the immigration process.

“Reaching the one million mark is a significant moment in our province’s history,” said Premier Tim Houston. “After years of a declining population, the world is learning how special Nova Scotia is. We have momentum and are growing.”

The provincial premier sees population growth as a key to boosting Nova Scotia’s economy.

“We all benefit from this growth with a greater tax base, new businesses and jobs, greater diversity and culture and improved infrastructure,” he said. “I ask our citizens, employers, communities, schools and workplaces to open their arms to new Nova Scotians and provide a warm welcome to all who choose our spectacular province as their home.”

In its latest Provincial Economic Outlook, TD Economics forecast the Nova Scotian economy would grow by 4.2 per cent by the end of this year and 2.4 per cent in 2022.

Immigration to Nova Scotia has been steadily increasing, from 3,405 new permanent residents in 2015 to 5,485 the following year. The influx of newcomers slowed somewhat in 2017 with only 4,515 new permanent residents but picked up again in 2018 with 5,965 new arrivals.

Then, immigration jumped by almost 27.1 per cent in 2019 to hit 7,580 new permanent residents.

New Pathways To Permanent Residence

In its bid to draw more immigrants to its shores, Nova Scotia is doing more than just marketing itself. It is also introducing new pathways to permanent residency.

This year, Nova Scotia immigration  launched a new Provincial Nominee Program stream targeting international graduates, the International Graduates In Demand stream of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP).

It is open to workers with permanent job offers in one of two National Occupational Classification codes:

  • NOC 3413 – Nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates, and;
  • NOC 4214 – Early childhood educators and assistants.

As well as a job offer from a Nova Scotia employer that corresponds with their fields of study, international graduates must also have completed at least half of their courses in the Atlantic province.

The NSNP has a total of nine different streams with a target processing time for applications of three months.

The nine streams are:

  • Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry;
  • Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities: Express Entry;
  • Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities For Physicians: Express Entry;
  • Skilled Worker;
  • Physician;
  • Occupations In Demand;
  • International Graduates In Demand;
  • Entrepreneur, and;
  • International Graduate Entrepreneur.

Nova Scotia also operates the Study and Stay program which is aimed at helping international students from China, India and the Philippines stay and build careers in the region after they graduate.

The province previously operated a Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry stream, but this was closed permanently as of Jan. 4, 2021.

Then, there’s the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, an employer-driven group of three programs:

  • The Atlantic High-Skilled Program;
  • The Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program, and;
  • The Atlantic International Graduate Program.

The Atlantic High-Skilled Program is aimed at skilled workers with management, professional or technical/skilled job experience with job offers of at least one year.

Those with offers for permanent jobs requiring a high school education and/or job-specific training can apply under the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program.

The Atlantic International Graduate Program is aimed at candidates who have a degree, diploma or other credential from a publicly-funded institution in an Atlantic province and an offer for a job that will last at least one year but no work experience.

Each job offer made through the AIP requires provincial endorsement. The application for endorsement is handled by the employer after the candidate has their Settlement Plan.


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