By Rikkeal Bohmann, Leader-Post February 26, 2014 - REGINA - Spartak Latska moved to Regina in June of 2013 from Albania for job opportunities and with the help of friends from home, he easily found a job in construction — and his story isn’t all that unique.
Regina is now the fourth fastest growing census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Immigration is the largest factor to the population growth, which is higher than the national average.
The CMA of Regina grew to 232,090, a population growth rate of 3.085 per cent, between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013. The average rate of growth nationally for all CMAs was 1.5 per cent.
The Regina CMA is made of 17 census subdivisions, including Regina Beach, Lumsden, Balgonie, Pilot Butte and White City.
Immigration makes up 65 per cent of the increase or more than 4,500 people. Other reasons include a natural increase of 18 per cent, intraprovincial migration of 11 per cent and interprovincial migration of 6 per cent.
Neelu Sachdev, executive director of Regina Immigrant Women Centre, said people are immigrating to the Regina region for economic opportunities. She said many immigrants are coming to Regina through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which allows employers to hire foreign workers to fill positions that Canadian residents can’t fill. If requirements are met, temporary workers are later able to apply for permanent residence.
Sachdev noted other reasons for international migration to the area includes newcomers seeing opportunity to buy into businesses in the area and families moving to reunite with family members who have already came to the region.
Sooyoung Park came to Regina in July of 2013 from South Korea. Her decision to move was motivated by her three children. By moving to Regina, she hoped to provide her children with more opportunities for education.
Moving to the Regina area isn’t without its challenges, though.
Cold weather combined with a language barrier can cause isolation for many immigrants, Sachdev said.
“Integration is on all of these levels a challenge,” she said.
Park and Latska both find Regina weather and language their biggest challenges. Currently, both are taking English classes.
“If you don’t speak English very well, it’s hard. But, now we are learning,” Latska said.
For those residents who didn’t move to the area through the TFWP, finding a job can be difficult too.
Due to the language barrier, Park and her husband have had difficulties getting and maintaining a job in their fields of accounting and architecture, respectively.
For the second year, the top four fastest growing CMAs were on the Prairies. Calgary saw an increase of 4.263 per cent, Saskatoon saw 3.868 per cent and Edmonton saw 3.78 per cent.
Unlike all other CMAs, Regina and Saskatoon are not seeing the 65 and older population growing.
More than two-thirds of Canadians live in a CMA.