More immigrants are flocking to the prairies and turning their backs on Ontario — a traditional hub for newcomers to Canada — according to new statistics.
Figures released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada earlier this month reveal that the province experienced a drop in new settlers to 118,114 in 2010 from 148,640 immigrants in 2001.
Toronto, a traditional immigration magnet, saw 92,185 new immigrants in 2010, down from 125,169 in 2001.
Meanwhile, the number of newcomers settling in Manitoba increased to 15,809 in 2010 from 4,591 in 2001; Saskatchewan saw an increase to 7,615 from 1,704; and Alberta saw 32,642 new faces, up from 16,404 a decade earlier.
All provinces and territories except Ontario saw gradual increases, but the prairies experienced the biggest spike during the past decade.
The ministry said part of the increase could be attributed to the Provincial Nominee Program that has given provinces more autonomy in selecting immigrants who match local needs.
In 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada plans to welcome 42,000 to 45,000 people under the Provincial Nominee Program, including nominees, their spouses and dependants.
Alberta's PNP intake has increased more than 18-fold in recent years, from just over 400 people admitted in 2004 to almost 7,500 in 2010, according to a CIC media release.
"Provincial nominees accounted for 33 per cent of economic class admissions and 23 per cent of total immigration to Alberta in 2010," the statement added.
The top three source countries for new immigrants in Canada continue to be in Asia, with most newcomers arriving from India, the Philippines and China, according to Candice Malcolm, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's press secretary.
"Traditionally people have moved to Toronto at least to start, and then move somewhere else, but with these other economic opportunities and the provincial selections, people are bypassing that and going straight to Calgary or straight to Alberta instead of going to Toronto," said Malcolm.
NDP immigration critic Don Davies said the combination of the economy and immigrant settlement approaches could explain why there has been a significant increase in the prairie region and cites Manitoba's approach as an example.
"Manitoba has led the way in immigrant settlement services, they have led the way in providing protection and enforcement of employment standards, particularly in the skilled workers area," said Davies.
"The conditions for which the employers apply for those workers are respected. I think that's paid off to make immigrants comfortable settling there," he added.
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