immigration backlogprovincial nominee program

Provinces Seek Control Over Immigration Amid Labour Shortage

Published on: August 18th, 2022

 Provinces are seeking more control over their immigration as the federal backlog remains high and Canada’s job vacancy rate continues to grow.

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What are the Provincial Nominee Programs?

Canada’s provincial nominee programs (PNPs) offer a pathway to Canadian permanent residence for individuals who are interested in immigrating to a specific Canadian province or territory.  

Each Canadian province and territory operate its own PNP designed to meet its specific economic and demographic needs. 

Provinces Seek More Control Over Immigration Processes

With labor demands at an all-time high, provinces are turning to immigration to meet workforce shortages. Across the country, there is a shortage of skilled and qualified workers, particularly in the healthcare, construction, and food & accommodation sectors. To fill these shortages, provinces are calling for more allocated nominations to fill some of these essential jobs.  

Ontario is among the provinces that wish to step up immigration to meet labor demands. Although Ontario has more PNP allocations than any other province, it pales in comparison to the percentage of newcomers moving to the area that would like to apply for permanent residency. Last year the government was only able to offer invitations to 4.5 percent of the immigrant pool in Ontario which is one of the lowest ratios out of all the provinces or territories. This year, the government of Ontario was hoping to double the number of allocated nominations from 9,000 to 18,000. However, it was announced that the federal government has only approved an increase of 700. With about 378,000 unfilled jobs, this is a serious problem for the region. With few other solutions, immigration is the best way to fill the majority of those roles in the short run.   

Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development, said the Ontario government can process applications significantly faster than the federal government; in some cases, it can take the federal government up to 42 months to process an immigration application. He also said that they are now recognizing international credentials for some occupations. “So if you’re an engineer, if you’re an architect, or if you’re in the skilled trades, we’ve now eliminated the Canadian work experience and really simplified the language testing requirements,” said McNaughton. 

Ontario isn’t the only province urging the federal government to give more control when it comes to immigration. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have all made similar appeals to the federal government. Many provinces feel that they are better equipped than the federal government to make decisions about their immigration demands. Most provinces want more autonomy over the immigration process, from determining what percentage of PNP invitations they can allocate, to which specific skill sets should be targeted. Across the country 1 in 3 skilled trade workers is over the age of 55. This is an early indication that labor shortages, especially in skilled trades, could become even more dire if not addressed.  

What has been done to attract skilled immigrants?

In March, the country had an unprecedented number of job vacancies across the country. Over 1 million jobs have been going unfilled, due in part to the backlog of immigration applications. One way the Canadian government has been trying to fill these job vacancies is to make it easier for international graduates to remain and work in Canada by extending post-graduate work permits. This will give graduates whose permits have expired or are expiring this year to extend their status for an additional 18 months. Graduates can then use this Canadian work experience toward a future permanent residence application, which would ensure that skilled talent stay in the Canadian workforce. 

Canada also extended a public policy allowing visitors to apply for an employer-specific work permit without leaving the country. This will enable individuals seeking employment to stay on valid visitor status in Canada until they receive a closed work permit. The government initially introduced this policy during the pandemic in 2020 and has extended it until February 2023. 

Quebec has also recently announced that they plan to lower tuition for eligible international students to help attract more of those studying in-demand fields. Quebec will be cutting tuition fees for certain international students from about $20,000 to $3,000 CAD per year. This will make it more accessible for prospective students to have the chance to study in Canada where they may not have had the financial means to do so previously. 

With Canada’s declining birth rate and ageing population, immigration will continue to play a vital role in filling job vacancies and maintaining economic growth.  


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