The new automated immigration system, Express Entry which was introduced in January 2015 will not only affect how skilled workers come to Canada, it will also have an effect on how employers fill jobs with new Canadians. In Ontario, the system could even change the composition of immigrants entering the province’s job market.
Canada has a yearly commitment to 250,000 new permanent residents, and Ontario continues to be the country’s biggest recipient of immigration. In 2013 of the 100,000 immigrants that came to Ontario, large majority settled in the GTA. However, when it comes to skilled immigrants, Ontario has been increasingly falling short of its targets: in 2010, Ontario’s share of “economic class” immigrants was nearly 60 per cent, while in 2013 that number dropped to 46 per cent.
The boom in resource industries in Western Canada, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan, has drawn job-hungry skilled workers away from Ontario. Queen’s Park is optimistic that the new Express Entry rules will help with an increase in economic immigration in Ontario.
“We certainly hope there’s,” said Cecil Fong, spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Michael Chan. “We’re cautiously optimistic, but it’s very early so far.”
Express Entry will give the province one way to accelerate economic immigration: applicants in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) receive the same benefits as immigrants with an existing job offer and a guaranteed invitation to apply for permanent residency.
The problem for Ontario is that its PNP allotment is 2,500, less than half of British Columbia’s, despite that province receiving half as many economic immigrants as Ontario.
From Ottawa’s perspective, however, PNP is working as planned. One of the program’s goals was to disperse immigration away from Ontario and Canada’s large cities, in general. With the price of oil sinking rapidly and major oil sands producers already delaying large investments and cutting jobs, Ontario may become a magnet for immigration without doing anything, as a lower dollar benefits manufacturers.