Will they stay or will they go?

Author: NB-IRDT Staff

 Posted on 07 Nov 2019

Immigration Population Growth Retention

It’s easy to track how many immigrants are accepted into a province as permanent residents through immigration programs. It is much harder to keep track of what happens after they arrive. Many New Brunswickers are counting on immigration to help alleviate the economic and social challenges we face as a result of NB’s demographic challenges. For New Brunswick to fully benefit from immigration, we need to dig deeper to understand the immigrant experience once they arrive in our province.

  • Are immigrants coming to New Brunswick staying long term?
  • Which communities are more successful at retaining immigrants?
  • If immigrants leave, when do they leave?
  • And what is our window for providing the services and support that will help them stay?


Researchers from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data, and Training took a unique approach to gauge immigrant retention in New Brunswick using pseudonymized data from the NB-IRDT’s Citizen Database, which is based on New Brunswick’s Medicare Registry, and IRCC immigrant landing records which generally tracks immigration landing records for NB. This combination of data sets are a valuable resource for considering immigrant retention.Until now, researchers studying immigrant retention have had few data resources available to them. Dr. Ted McDonald, Brent Cruickshank, and Dr. Zikuan Liu demonstrated the value of using alternate data to add to new results to existing literature.Here are a few of their findings. Of the immigrants who arrive in New Brunswick:


  • Young, male immigrants are the most likely to leave NB.
  • Immigrants from the Philippines, United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France are the mostly likely to remain in NB.
  • Immigrants from Iran, China, Columbia, and Vietnam were most likely to leave.
  • After 5 years 70% of people from the European Union who registered for Medicare are likely to still be in NB compared with 60% of arrivals from the Middle East. After 15 years, the number falls to 54% and 40% respectively.
  • Those who arrived in the 1980s and 1990s are more likely to leave after 5 years than those arriving after 2000.


The research team’s novel approach will improve understanding of immigrant retention issues not just in New Brunswick, but across Canada.