|Map of the Western provinces. See Image:Canada provinces blank vide.png for additional information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Results from a recent Statistics Canada survey, released this past Monday, have revealed a growing trend of migration to the country’s western provinces. These provinces, especially Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, are currently seeing an upswing in employment and economic growth. Workers from across Canada and across the world have taken note of this prosperity, and are relocating westward in unprecedented numbers.
Why the West?
Western provinces have recently seen great economic expansion, largely due industries such as mining and natural resources management (including oil and natural gas). Thousands of workers have answered calls for specialists in these industries, and along with their arrival has come a renewed need for workers in complementary fields such as construction and food services.
However, despite recent migration these provinces are still in acute need of workers of all kinds. Last November, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business assessed the job vacancy rate in Alberta alone to stand at around 276,000 unfilled part- and full-time jobs.
Of course, those who answer the call for workers will not be traveling to the ‘wild west’ of yesteryear. Instead, they will have the opportunity to settle in some of Canada’s most cosmopolitan cities, such as Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.
“Over the years, I have seen what we call the ‘prairie provinces’ become major drivers of Canada’s economy,” said Attorney David Cohen. “
Alberta – Canada’s Powerhouse
Nowhere can this population increase be more clearly felt than in the Province of Alberta. So many workers have arrived in the province that the number of 30 to 44 year olds, relative to its overall population, is quadruple that of any other part of Canada.
When it comes to immigration, Alberta is also seeing an all-time high. This past year over 36,000 newcomers settled in the province, the largest number in its history.
The cities of Calgary and Edmonton, as well as their surrounding towns, are home to approximately three quarters of the province’s population. Here, according to a 2003 study by TD Bank, high salaries allow many residents to obtain a “US level of wealth” while maintaining a “Canadian-style quality of life” with social services such as public healthcare.
Immigration: A Large Role to Play
This year, the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta had the highest immigration rates, relative to their populations, in all of Canada. In the past few years, their total numbers have slowly chipped away at Ontario’s place as the top destination for immigrants.
Part of these provinces attraction lies in the way they have structured their immigration programs. Most Canadian provinces and territories operate Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), which allow provinces to nominate eligible applicants to the federal government for permanent residency.
PNPs have been a particularly central part of western Canada’s success story. This is in part because each province is given the liberty to tailor their programs to attract immigrants who are most likely to succeed in their unique communities and labour markets.
Immigration programs can vary greatly from one province’s PNP to another. For instance, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) has dedicated streams for food service workers, graduates of Canadian educational institutions, engineers, tradespersons, and even self-employed farmers. The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP), on the other hand, has streams for long-haul truck drivers, family members of Saskatchewan residents, farm owners and operators, health professionals, and hospitality workers.
“Western provinces have had great success bringing in qualified immigrants from around the world,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Immigrants that arrive through one of these programs integrate quickly and usually find high-paying jobs in their fields. Because of this, many provinces have been lobbying the federal government for greater power to select the immigrants they want.”