Largest Canadian Province, Ontario, Announces New Immigration Strategy

Arnon Melo, far right, is the type of immigrant Ontario wants more of. A native of Brazil, the entrepreneur founded a logistics company that now employs 10 people (Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration)

The provincial government of Ontario announced a new immigration strategy on Monday which primarily focuses on attracting more economic class immigrants, meaning those who immigrate through skilled worker and investor programs, to Ontario.

The strategy is shaped by recommendations submitted to the Ontario government by an expert roundtable last month which the government commissioned as a response to years of decreasing immigration to the province.

The final strategy adopted by the provincial government sets as its objectives to increase the province’s total immigration numbers and the proportion of economic immigrants, to boost the economic success of immigrants in order to bring their incomes and employment rates up to that of the Ontario average, and to help the province take greater advantage of the international links immigrants bring.

Some of the specific targets included in the strategy are:

  • Bringing the proportion of economic immigrants up to 70 percent from the
    current 52 percent.
  • Requesting that the federal government double the province’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) quota from its current 1,000, to 5,000 by 2014.
  • Encouraging employers to develop and expand mentorship, internship and on-the-job training programs.
  • Increasing the number of immigrants licensed in their field.
  • Increasing Francophone immigration to five percent.

The strategy sets out to persuade the federal government to change some of the immigration rules that the Ontario provincial government blames for contributing to the province’s underperformance, relative to other provinces, in attracting economic immigrants.

While 52 percent of immigrants to Ontario are economic immigrants, the average rate for other Canadian provinces is 70 percent, a disparity that the Ontario government attributes primarily to the low number of economic immigrants, as a percentage of the total number of economic immigrants to the province, that the federal government permits Ontario to select relative to other, less populated, provinces.

Monday’s announcement will likely put pressure on the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration to increase the number of immigrants it allows Ontario to select through the Ontario PNP.