Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, inspects the traditional honour guard in Charlottetown, P.E.I., on Tuesday.

P.E.I. to take steps to boost population, ‘help newcomers feel at home’

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island — Canada’s smallest but fastest-growing province — is promising measures to get more immigrants to come, and stay.

The Island’s population topped 152,000 this year, and the government has set the goal of reaching 160,000 by 2022.

“My government has set ambitious targets for near and long-term population growth,” the government said in its throne speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry Tuesday as she opened the fall session of the legislature.

“In the coming year, my government will take further steps to maximize retention rates for new immigrants.”

According to Statistics Canada, the population of P.E.I. grew 1.7 per cent between July 2016 to July 2017. Nationally, growth was 1.2 per cent.

The government said it is working with municipalities to develop “welcome to the community” initiatives: “The objective is to help newcomers feel at home in Prince Edward Island,” it said.

The province’s immigration program is competing around the world for new immigrants, it said.

The government said it will expand the WorkPEI website to help match job-seekers with employers. It said a new database will include expatriate workers and entrepreneurs in an effort to entice them to return home.

The speech, which provides a broad outline of the government’s intentions over the next year, also promises a new high-speed fibre internet network from one end of the province to the other.

Service providers will be able to connect to the network, making it easier for them to deliver high-speed internet throughout the province, it said.

The government is also committing to introducing a carbon plan early in 2018.

“The P.E.I. approach to climate change and carbon pricing will respect the economic context and realities of our province while being consistent with our pledge to further lower our per capita emissions.”

The government said it will also release a poverty reduction strategy before the end of this year, and a recreational cannabis plan will come in the spring.

“Central to our approach will be getting proceeds out of the hands of criminals, providing good public education and striving for a consistent approach within our region.”

The government said it will also develop a program to help seniors enjoy a better quality of life in their own homes.

“Through this program, services such as light housekeeping or snow removal will be provided to seniors, making it easier for them to remain in their own homes and communities,” it said.

The government said it plans to consider at least 10 bills during the new session, including a Water Act and a Lobbyist Registration Act.

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