Ottawa’s share of new immigrants continues to decline as newcomers increasingly opt for the economic opportunities of Western Canada or the cultural diversity of Montreal.
A Statistics Canada study released last week reveals that the percentage of immigrants who cited Ottawa as their intended destination has dropped to 2.4 per cent in 2012 from 3.4 per cent in 2000.
This means that despite Canada welcoming more newcomers, the actual number of immigrants settling in Ottawa has gone down. Annual immigration to Canada rose to 280,700 in 2012 from 227,500 in 2000.
“The recession hit Ontario pretty hard and it’s normal that immigrants don’t want to go to someplace where economic conditions are not as good,” said Gilles Grenier, a University of Ottawa economics professor who specializes in labour market and immigration issues.
The Statistics Canada research paper, Changes in the Regional Distribution of New Immigrants to Canada, examines the country’s evolving settlement pattern.
It shows that new immigrants have started to look at destinations such as Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, where economies have been booming. Montreal has also seen its share of newcomers increase to 18.1 per cent in 2012.
Meanwhile, Toronto, which attracted 48.4 per cent of all new immigrants in 2000, saw its share of newcomers fall to 30 per cent in 2012. However, the city remains the country’s biggest magnet for immigrants.
According to Statistics Canada analysts, the new settlement pattern reflects changes in regional economic activity and employment. “In short, labour market conditions were better in Western Canada than they were in the rest of the country,” the report concluded.
That more newcomers were settling outside of Toronto and Vancouver was also a reflection of Canada’s revised immigration system. Provincial nominee programs (PNPs) allow provinces to select and nominate immigrants to meet their own economic goals and growth targets.
Statistics Canada analysts said the distribution of newcomers within Canada has also been affected by shifts in the country’s immigration sources. In the late 1990s, most of Canada’s immigrants came from China and India, and they tended to settle in Toronto and Vancouver. By 2010, however, the Philippines was the biggest source of Canadian immigrants, and they have settled in cities across the country, the report said.
Montreal’s growth as a destination city was driven by increased immigration from Africa, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
By the numbers
48.4: Percentage of new immigrants who wanted to settle in Toronto in 2000
30: Percentage of new immigrants who wanted to settle in Toronto in 2012
5.5: Average unemployment rate in Toronto in 2000
9.2: Average unemployment rate in Toronto in 2010
21.3: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that came from China in 2000
12.8: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that came from China in 2010
14: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that arrived from the Philippines in 2010