Labour Minister Monte McNaughton accused the former provincial government of not making the program a priority. Since the Entrepreneur stream opened in 2015, just two immigrant investors have been nominated. To strengthen the program, McNaughton revealed that the Ontario government will invest $6 million. The focus will be on attracting more international entrepreneurs to regions outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
“I see immigration as one of the key economic drivers of Ontario’s growth,” McNaughton said
Ontario’s current Entrepreneur Stream is operated under Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), a Provincial Nominee Program. The stream requires a minimum investment of $200,000 for candidates planning to start a business outside of the GTA, or $600,000 for business within the GTA.
A 2018 report from The Conference Board of Canada found that 77 per cent of all new immigrants to Canada settled in the GTA.
The Ontario government is making efforts to spread the benefits of skilled worker immigration across the province. Programs such as the Regional Immigration Pilot are designed to encourage foreign skilled workers to settle less populous regions in Ontario.
Minister McNaughton wants smaller communities in Ontario to also profit from the advantages of entrepreneur immigration.
“We’ve seen such a Toronto focus by governments in the past of all different political stripes. I want to spread opportunity more widely and thoroughly and focus on our small cities and small towns.”
Ontario is facing a significant labour shortage that has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Labour Minister McNaughton says the province needs more immigrants to fill these gaps.
Despite accepting more immigrants than any other Canadian province, Ontario has asked the federal government to increase this number. The Ontario government has asked to double the number of newcomers they can recruit through their nominee program from 9,000 to 18,000 per year.
By persuading prospective foreign entrepreneurs to start a new business or purchase an existing business in Ontario, outside of the GTA, the Ontario government hopes to help with a post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
“We have to be aggressive as we build back better out of the pandemic to recruit entrepreneurs to Ontario,” – Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton
The OINP’s Entrepreneur stream is for entrepreneurs from outside Canada that want to start a new business or buy an existing business in Ontario. The stream gives foreign entrepreneurs the chance to be nominated for Canadian permanent residence once their business is established in the province.
The stream operates by using an Expression of Interest (EOI) system. Interested candidates must submit an EOI by email for the chance to be invited to apply. After going through the application process and starting a business in Ontario, the entrepreneur may apply to be nominated by the province.
Provincial nominee recipients may apply to Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for Canadian permanent residence.
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