April 22, 2024- The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce have jointly expressed their apprehension and disappointment regarding the  lack of consultation and notice of recent policy changes implemented with the Province of Prince Edward Island’s revamped population framework.

When releasing its framework, aimed at slowing population growth to allow public services and infrastructure to catch up, the Province announced an overall reduction of federal nominees by 25% in 2024. However, this leads to a nominations reduction of 75% specifically for the sales and service sector and impacts immigrant employees already residing and employed in this sector.

The repercussions of this decision, internally formulated by the government in July 2023, and publicly disclosed in February 2024, have been sudden and severe. In the wake of  these changes, an unprecedented number of immigrant employees have abruptly left their places of employment and homes with little to no notice.

“It is deeply troubling that businesses in the sales and services sector, along with representative bodies, were not consulted about these policy changes or notified prior to their implementation,” said Kaley O’Brien, CEO of the Greater Summerside Chamber. “The abrupt loss of so many employees has created significant disruptions in operations and has left businesses struggling to maintain service levels.”

Members in this sector have reached out to both Chambers, expressing that they will, or already have, reduced operations and service hours due to staff shortages. Members in this sector have also indicated concerns about how this policy change will impact expanding or investing business in PEI.

In a recent poll administered by the Chambers in March, respondents representing 24% of total sales and services businesses in PEI reported departures of over 400 employees from their jobs and the province in the weeks following the government’s announcement, with predictions of losing an additional 600 employees in the coming months. According to the survey, employees affected had been with their employers for typically 9 to 12 months, with some employees having worked in the position for more than a year. The private sector is now faced with significant hurdles in delivering and maintaining standards of services expected by both locals and visitors alike.

Both Chambers call upon the government of Prince Edward Island to reassess  its approach to immigration reduction, improve its consultation process, and provide advance notice to sectors and individuals affected by pending policy changes in the future. Furthermore, they advocate for collaborative efforts between the government and businesses and chambers to identify alternative measures to mitigate disruptions to business.

It is imperative that any population plan takes into account the needs and concerns of the private sector, ensuring a balanced approach that supports economic growth while maintaining essential public services and growing infrastructure.

“We urge the government to work collaboratively with business, chambers, and stakeholders to develop solutions and address the challenges posed by population growth without compromising the vitality of our economy and the quality of services provided to residents and visitors alike,” said Bianca McGregor, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Chambers have met with the Office of Immigration on this topic. This morning, the Chambers also met with Minister Redmond and senior staff at the Department of Workforce, Advanced Learning, and Population, with assurances of a willingness to consult and collaborate on short and long-term solutions to labour shortages moving forward.

The Chambers will continue to pursue solutions for this issue, consult with our impacted membership, and are committed to working across sectors to address and solve labour force challenges in the Province.

 

 

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Madeline Biso

Policy Analyst and Media Relations Manager

902-628-2000 ext. 224

mbiso@charlottetownchamber.com

 

 

 

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