SPRINGHILL – The Progressive Conservative leader revealed some of his clout here yesterday, hosting a round table discussion on immigration with Cumberland County’s leaders and the federal government.
The former head of Atlantic Credit Union, Progressive Conservative candidate for Cumberland South and party leader, Jamie Baillie invited the area’s boards of trade, municipal leaders from Springhill, Amherst and the county and representatives from Cumberland Regional Economic Development to sit in a round table discussion with St. Catherines, Ont. MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Rick Dystra on the opportunities and challenges for rural Nova Scotia.
“The reason we’re talking, we’re talking about these issues on federal and provincial levels, is because we should be working with the provinces in a much stronger way,” Dystra said.
To exemplify his point, Dystra related how Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon, Man., has changed the dynamics of its work force and the community by expanding its plant and employing immigrant workers. Three-quarters of the 2,300 workers are employed through the temporary work program, opening the door to help fast track the immigration process. The province, Dystra said, helped Maple Leaf Foods create a demand for jobs and the feds are helping fill those positions.
Locally, the same program is helping keep local farms operating.
“The Annapolis Valley would have half of the farms it does now if they couldn’t access the program.”
Not all partnerships between the provinces and Ottawa are as efficient as the temporary worker program, and there’s room to grow, Dystra said, and he hopes more municipalities will become part of the problem solving.
“I think we’re getting there. I realize there’s things we need to do and we need that stronger interaction on the federal and provincial levels.”