Four provinces in Canada’s east coast, commonly known as the Atlantic Provinces, have launched major initiatives to boost immigration.
As part of the strategy, the Premiers (who are the elected leaders of the provinces in Canada) of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island (PEI) want to talk to Canada’s federal government about relaxing the cap on the so-called Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
The PNP allows individual provinces and territories to select their own immigrants based on the needs of that particular province or territory. The federal government, through the department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), together with a province or territory imposes a cap for every year for PNP immigration.
According to CIC, the national quota for PNP for this year is between 17,500 and 18,800 principle applicants.
But the PNP annual quota differs from province to province and some officials from the Atlantic provinces have been unhappy about that. They point out that New Brunswick, for example, has a population of 750,000 and is allocated a PNP cap of 625 every year while Manitoba, in the west, is allowed 5,000 under the PNP for a population of 1.2 million.
It is not clear, though, how many immigrants the four provinces want to bring under the PNP.
Attracting new immigrants has become critical for many of Canada’s provinces and territories. It is even more critical for the Atlantic provinces for four key reasons: keep population growing, keep pace with the developments in rest of Canada in terms of immigration, attract people with knowledge and attract fresh cash.
As one observer put it, the general population trend of Atlantic Canada is old, white and declining while in provinces like Ontario, British Columbia it is young, multicultural and growing.
Some of the provinces have already launched separate programs to boost immigration. For example, earlier this month, Nova Scotia launched an ambitious program to double its annual immigrant intake, to reach 7,200 immigrants by 2020, and part of the plan is to increase the PNP from the current 500 to 1,500.
One of the challenges faced by region is that many of the immigrants who move there do not remain there; they emigrate within Canada, mostly to major hubs such as Ontario or British Columbia after a few years.
But this might be changing. One study done by the St Mary’s University in Halifax, in Nova Scotia, found out that while 54 percent of the immigrants who had moved to the Atlantic region during the five years ending in 2001 were still in the region, this had gone up to 65 percent by 2006. Nova Scotia, in its new immigration strategy, plans to increase the retention rate to seventy percent.
Officials from the region say that immigrants generally fare better there, than in the major hubs. Some studies do show immigrants moving to the Atlantic provinces tend to get jobs appropriate to their professions faster and also earn more than immigrants moving to provinces such as Ontario.
Links to Atlantic Canadian Provincial Immigration Sites: