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Boon or Bust?


An influx of immigrants who work and pay taxes might fix our budget woes and


mitigate the effects of an aging population, but what are the costs of doing so?


by Susan Smith illustration by Michelle Thompson


T’S NOT SURPRISING Norman Nahas believes strongly in the economic benefits of immigration. His family’s story is all about the successful immigrant experi- ence. One could say, in fact, that the Nahas clan em- bodies it. Decades ago, when his father, Bassam (Sam), ended his


voyage from Lebanon at Pier 21 in Halifax, he had no way of knowing that his son Norman would eventually be running his property development business. He had no business at the time, nor did he have a son. He was only 14 years old, the youngest child in a family of eight children. Following family members who had already come to


Nova Scotia, Sam made his way in the New World, selling insurance, working on the railroad, working at a grocery store. Eventually he and his brothers owned their own grocery chain. In the 1980s, he and a partner bought land in Halifax, from which grew Nanco Developments Ltd., now run by Norman and his two brothers. In 1989, he bought out the iconic King of Donair restaurant chain, which had been started by a Greek immigrant to Canada.


Meanwhile, Norman had married a Canadian and had


three sons, all of whom went to university and became professionals. “The entrepreneurial spirit was quite strong in the old-


er generation, where it was either sink or swim,” says Norman, who leſt engineering five years ago to look aſter the day-to-day operations of Nanco. “Then they began to focus on education for their kids.” As president of the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce


in Nova Scotia, he and the Halifax Partnership, a public/ private economic development organization, recently studied the impact of Lebanese immigrants on the city of Halifax, providing an example of what immigration can do for a local economy. What they found was that 1,370 Lebanese immigrants


and their descendants directly and indirectly create 4,000 to 5,000 jobs a year. Using census data, they deter- mined that 3.6 full-time jobs are created for every Lebanese immigrant in the city. The Nahas story is just one of many about how im-


28 | CPA MAGAZINE | JUNE/JULY 2016


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