Atlantic Canada needs to make it more attractive for Chinese immigrants to settle in the region, says a new Atlantic Institute for Market Studies report.

“Our population is shrinking, rapidly leaving us with a labour shortage that is only getting worse the more it is ignored,” Charles Cirtwill, acting president of the conservative think-tank, said in a release on Wednesday.

“Immigration can help in terms of providing a pool of skilled workers as well as the added benefits of enhanced economic development and job creation.”

The study paper concluded that Chinese immigrants are generally only aware of the major Canadian centres like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and suggested that marketing material, websites and immigration advice should be made more widely available to inform them about the Atlantic region.

AIMS said the region also needs to adopt more flexible immigration policies and be more welcoming to new immigrants.

It suggests that workplace internships and mentoring programs, business and professional networking opportunities, more English language programs, including sector-based professional English training and programs to help new immigrants meet Canadian standards would enhance the region’s reputation as a place to settle.

The institute added that more work needs to be done on having comparable foreign credentials in fields like engineering and medicine recognized by regional employers and professional associations.

AIMS noted that business immigrant entrepreneurs invested $87.8 million in Canada in 2004 and created 886 full-time and 646 part-time jobs.

The Nova Scotia government created an immigration minister portfolio in 2005 to encourage immigrants to come to the province.

Last year, the province dropped a $5,000 fee charged to skilled immigrants and it is taking other steps to reduce immigration barriers.

To read more about the AIMS paper, click here.