Case Study

Economic Immigration Lab - September 2017 - March 2020

The initial spark for the Economic Immigration Lab happened during NouLAB’s Academy program, an introductory workshop on social innovation labs. At this workshop, Alex LeBlanc, Executive Director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Association and Adrienne O’Pray, CEO of the New Brunswick Business Council found themselves talking about the dire need for immigration to the province, and a new approach to solving this challenge. Funding and willpower was committed from PETL, ACOA, McCain, and Imperial Manufacturing and the stage was set for the first year of a 3 year lab on economic immigration.

In the past two years the lab has achieved more than we could have thought possible. There have been 15 prototype teams developed who have all done some real work in making a difference to the immigration system in New Brunswick. Of those projects, there are now 4 that are being actively supported by the NouLAB team. These include: a new position in government that is helping to guide Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) through the process of immigration and certification; a program to streamline the hiring process for the information technology sector; a deeper look at Foreign Qualification Recognition in the province to ensure newcomers are working to their highest potential; and a team in Miramichi working to ensure newcomers are supported and welcomed in more rural settings.

Using design thinking and systems thinking, all participants in the lab now have new skills to tackle problems in their work. Out of all participants interviewed at the 2 year mark, 100% agreed that the lab has provided an innovative approach to addressing the issue of immigration in New Brunswick.

One year report

Sebastián Salazar maps the connections he needs to make to take his Community Engagement project to the next level

Sebastián Salazar maps the connections he needs to make to take his Community Engagement project to the next level


Three year Social Lab on the subject of Economic Immigration to the province of New Brunswick


A medium-term multi-stakeholder engagement designed to open up new approaches to attracting Economic Immigrants to the province of New Brunswick.

Immediate outcomes:

  • Engagement of stakeholders at the grassroots.

  • Co-design of the process a leadership council consisting of government and NGOs.

  • Multiple teams working to prototype solutions with support from the NouLAB team. 

Intermediate outcomes:

  • Multiple province-wide projects that are deeply influencing the process of immigration.

  • A new paradigm for how programs and policies are being tested

  • A network of change-makers interacted in formal and informal ways to influence change in the system of immigration

  • New insights into what needs to change

Long-term outcomes:

  • A better system for immigration

  • New Brunswick as a model for immigration in the country

Ripple effects:

  • Connections with other jurisdictions and influence at the Federal government level