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Social innovation lab at UNB seeks solutions to economic and immigration issues in New Brunswick

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Apr 20, 2018

Category: UNB Fredericton

As New Brunswick continues to face the double threat of a population that is both shrinking and aging, NouLAB is launching the next round of its Economic Immigration Lab aimed at devising new strategies for the province to attract and retain immigrants to the province.

“New Brunswick is facing a crisis. By 2032, there will be one retiree for every person earning income in New Brunswick,” says Karina LeBlanc, executive director of the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick and interim acting director of the New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network. “We need a new path.”

NouLAB, a program of UNB’s Pond-Deshpande Centre in collaboration with the New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network, launched the first cycle of its Economic immigration Lab last fall. More than 30 participants representing government, private sector, non-profit and citizens participated and provided input to eight distinct projects. A summary report can be found on the website.

“The province is looking to immigration to attract new people to live, work and contribute to the community. But how do we do that in ways that help ensure success?” Ms. LeBlanc says. “This next cycle of the NouLAB social lab on economic immigration will continue to seek those answers.”

The next cycle began this week.

“Participants from the first cycle on economic immigration formed strong, lasting partnerships leading to actionable solutions,” says Amanda Hachey, director of NouLAB.

“In this second cycle, participants will be working to answer the following questions: How might we shorten processing times for international recruits for New Brunswick employers? How might we fill pending nursing shortages with newcomers? How might we improve community infrastructure to be more welcoming to newcomers?”

A social lab consists of a series of workshops designed to fully understand the issue and then develop innovative, actionable solutions that are tested right away. By bringing together the knowledge from diverse groups into one room, all perspectives are shared and more holistic responses to complex challenges can be achieved.

NouLAB is a citizen-driven, citizen-owned asset of the province. It uses systems thinking and design thinking methods to tackle the big problems the province is facing. NouLAB has helped teams working on issues ranging from aging to rural revitalization and to housing for people with complex needs.

For more information on NouLAB’s Economic Immigration Lab, see EconomicImmigrationLab.org.

Media contact: Cody Peters