Aug 31, 2019 – Ontario has been urged to address the imbalance between the number of new immigrants that settle in the Greater Toronto Area compared to the rest of the province.
Figures show 77 per cent of the immigrants welcomed by Ontario in 2018 settled in the GTA – a total of 106,000 newcomers.
The GTA alone received more immigrants than the combined total of Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador.
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It means smaller communities in the rest of Ontario received just 23 per cent of 2018 immigrant arrivals, of particular concern given some of these towns and cities are facing acute labour shortages linked to aging populations.
The concerns were raised as part of a Conference Board of Canada study into Ontario immigration.
The study says the situation is made even more acute outside the GTA due to low birth rates and high numbers of people leaving, often to move to the GTA themselves.
According to the report, Ontario’s current dependency ratio of 62 dependents to 100 workers is set to rise to 79 to 100 by 2040, further outlining the for a more even distribution of immigrants.
The Conference Board has urged Ontario to use the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) to better facilitate a more even distribution of immigrants.
The issue of uneven distribution of immigrants is not new for Ontario, or for Canada as a whole.
Ontario announced in July a plan to launch its own Regional Immigration Pilot to help bring skilled labour to smaller communities.
The province says it will work with communities with a population size between 20,000 and 200,000 on new ways to help them attract and retain new immigrants.
“The government is engaging with selected rural and small community stakeholders to assess interest in the proposed pilot and to gather information about existing community immigrant attraction and retention efforts,” said an Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program statement at the time.
Prospective communities to be involved in the pilot are to be judged on the following criteria:
- Population size (20,000 to 200,000).
- Newcomer settlement.
- Newcomer settlement infrastructure, such as language and settlement services.
- Economic characteristics.
The OINP decision comes after the federal government recently launched its own Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, also aimed at bringing talent to smaller communities.
The pilot, intended for launch sometime in 2020, comes following appeals from many communities in Northern Ontario that struggle to attract immigrants.