Applications open for 2017-18 Campus Fellows

Applications are now open for the 2017-18 AIMS on Campus Fellowship Program. It is open to undergraduate students at any post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada, as well as to students of Atlantic Canadian origin who attend school elsewhere in the country.

There are many benefits to student fellowships:

Networking: Join students, academics, elected officials, public servants and professionals from across the country and connect with AIMS staff, research fellows and speakers.

Education: Access AIMS research and learn about the pressing economic, political and social issues facing Canadians. Learn more about public policy and experience the work of a research institute.

Experience: Learn more about short-form writing and publish pieces on the student blog, assist AIMS on various projects and contribute to campus events.

Former student fellows have published their work in regional media outlets, formed campus societies and participated in events throughout Canada with AIMS-affiliated organizations. In addition, they have had the opportunity to increase their network of contacts at AIMS events.

Ideal candidates will have a strong interest in public policy and some understanding of the economic, political and social issues facing Canadians. In addition to those enrolled in universities, students from trade and vocational schools are welcome to apply.

Student fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend for the school year. The Institute also financially supports AIMS on Campus-related events.

There are four components to the AIMS on Campus student fellowship:

1. Writing for the Institute’s student blog, “Free Exchange.”
2. Helping to organize and promote campus debate sessions.
3. Participating in campus events, such as guest speakers and outreach presentations.
4. Providing research assistance to AIMS staff, research fellows and affiliated authors.

Interested candidates should forward a cover letter, CV, and a short writing sample to jackson.doughart@aims.ca.

Census 2016: What this means for Atlantic Canada

By Salman Dostmohammad
AIMS on Campus Fellow

The 2016 census data have revealed a very important insight. The Prairies and British Columbia are now the fastest growing regions and account for roughly a third of the population. Ontario accounts for slightly less than 40 percent of people and just less than 25 percent live in Quebec. And then there is Atlantic Canada, which is home to less than seven percent of Canada’s population.

It is important to note this last part because over the past five decades, the share of Canadians living in Atlantic Canada has decreased. According to Statistics Canada, 10 percent of Canadians used to live in the region in 1966.

Several issues are at play, which work against the region. These include a low birth rate, the flight of young talent to other provinces (otherwise known as interprovincial losses), and lower immigration levels.

If the rest of Canada continues to keep growing at the expense of Atlantic Canada, then the region will continue to lose its relevancy in national discourse and public policy.

This problem has been apparent for years and the provinces and the federal government have indicated their commitment to cooperate with the development of the Atlantic Growth I will discuss the Atlantic growth strategy in my next blog post.

Introduction to the Atlantic Growth Strategy

By Salman Dostmohammad
AIMS on Campus Fellow

The release of the 2016 census data revealed a big problem for Atlantic Canada.

Unless the region improves its demographic situation, provincial tax revenues will decrease and this will place downward pressure on governments, forcing them to act in one of the following scenarios:

  • A need for raise taxes for citizens to keep the same level of service,
  • A need to keep taxes the same but lower the level of service offered, or
  • A need to borrow and increase the debt to provide more services to less people.

Raising taxes and or increasing the net debt of the provinces will compound Atlantic Canada’s problems and do little to reverse its fortunes.

To offset this problem, the region should be working to attract newcomers and entice them to stay. And people will only stay if there are opportunities for them and their families. Creating more jobs is the sort of opportunity that newcomers need, and more of them. Students also need jobs and there is a rich potential of talent available here. Over 80,000 students choose to study in the region. Many of these students would like to stay after graduation but leave simply because the opportunities are not available to them.

The goal of the Atlantic Growth Strategy is for the federal government and the Atlantic provinces to co-operate on shared priorities. The strategy consists of a series of programs aimed at creating jobs and growing the economy and is based on five priority areas: skilled workforce/immigration, innovation, clean growth and climate change, trade and investment, and infrastructure. The strategy is aimed at being an employer-driven program.

In January 2017, federal and provincial leaders met in Wolfville to discuss the strategy and announced a number of pilot projects. One such initiative is an immigration pilot program that will initially accept 2,000 immigrants and their families. This is a sizeable number for the region. The first stage of the program will begin this month when Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada will start to accept permanent resident applications for Atlantic Canada.

The response thus far on this strategy has been favourable. The Charlottetown Guardian calls the program “a new hope”. And Finn Poschmann, CEO of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) wrote, “Every once in a while, governments get something right.”

The strategy aims to offers temporary foreign workers in the region with a path to permanent residency. This will be a big incentive for them to want to stay. The strategy will also involve new immigration programs for new graduates. This is beneficial because a big challenge for new graduates is finding employment in the region.

My next post will explore further details on the immigration pilot program.