The Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) says attracting and retaining immigrants is critical to Canada's economic recovery from COVID-19.
Last week the federal immigration minister unveiled a plan that aims to bring in more than 1.2 million immigrants in the next three years to help make up for the shortfall in 2020.
Jennifer Watts is CEO of ISANS and tells NEWS95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show immigration helps fill labour gaps.
Regardless of profession or skill background, Watts says immigrants make significant contributions to economic development.
"One of the things we have realized through this pandemic is that people in entry-level jobs and in front-line serves, which can be highly skilled or more beginning-level skilled, are as critically important to our economy right across the board," she says.
She says there are still plenty of jobs to fill.
"The pandemic has really seriously impacted us in terms of employment but the persistent labour market shortages, which existed before, continue to exist," she says. "And immigration has been a huge enabler for us to get through the pandemic, but will be absolutely critical in the long term recovery as well."
Watts says one of the biggest challenges in the Atlantic Region is supporting retention.
"We will have people come here but will they stay here and not go to Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver," she asks.
According to Watts, this means ensuring immigrants find jobs with wages that are comparable to elsewhere in Canada, and feel a sense of belonging in the community.
Watts says Nova Scotia welcomed a record number of immigrants in 2019, and it was on track to have another record-breaking year in 2020, until the pandemic hit.