What is Canada’s Upcoming Municipal Nominee Program?

Published on: August 26th, 2021

The requirements for Canadian regional immigration programs tend to be more flexible to meet the area’s labour or demographic needs

Amid an upcoming election, we are reminded of Justin Trudeau’s previous platform promise of implementing a Municipal Nominee Program (MNP). The goal of the MNP was to spread the benefits of immigration to regions outside of large urban centres to more mid-sized communities.

While the MNP is still in its planning phase, Canadian Minister of Immigration Marco Mendicino, has confirmed that at least 5,000 new permanent residence spaces will be dedicated to the program.

This will not be Canada’s first program intending to spread immigration throughout the country. The federal government has introduced various pilot programs in an effort to spread immigration throughout less populous regions of Canada. Other examples include Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), the Rural and Northern Pilot Program (RNIP), and Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP).

Over the last few years, Canada has been moving toward more regionally focused immigration programs. Doing so helps to address demographic and labour market needs throughout the country.

How will the Municipal Nominee Program differ from Provincial Nominee Programs?

Both Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) and Municipal Nominee Programs (MNP) give authority to jurisdictions across Canada to fill local labour gaps. PNPs allow each province and territory to set the requirements for their own immigration streams. Each province and territory have different nominee programs that operate in different ways. While these programs are successful in distributing immigrants across Canada, 80% of immigrants selected under these programs are still landing in metropolitan areas (OECD, 2019). To further spread the benefits of immigration, MNPs would give autonomy to smaller communities and municipalities within provinces and territories to decide on their newcomers.

How do regional immigration programs benefit foreign workers?

While the Express Entry system can be a quick way to immigrate to Canada, it can also be incredibly competitive. Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) provides a score based on various factors including one’s age, education, years of skilled work experience, proficiency in Canada’s official language, and other factors. Those who do not meet the CRS cut-off will continue to sit in the pool of candidates indefinitely. That’s where regional immigration programs come in.

Regional immigration programs, such as PNPs, are more targeted in their selection of candidates. These programs generally select candidates for their ability to fill local demographic or labour gaps. As a result, the requirements tend to be much more flexible to meet the region’s needs. Rather than targeting a specific score requirement, many have programs that target students, businesspeople, skilled workers, or semi-skilled workers. Additional targeted factors usually depend on other demographic needs of the province. For example, some provinces target skilled workers with strong proficiency in French to help increase their Francophone population.

What will be the selection criteria of Municipal Nominee Programs?

While the federal government has not yet released details on the MNP selection criteria, one of the main considerations will probably be related to immigrant retention.

One of the key struggles many Canadian mid-size communities face is retaining immigrants after they arrive. Of the stakeholders surveyed, over half believed that high retention rates in selected municipalities would be the most important indicator of success for this program. For the same reason, many existing regional programs have a strong focus on candidates with ties to the area. Ensuring the newcomers are provided settlement services is also one way these programs retain these nominees.

Some regional immigration programs require only that candidates submit evidence of their intention to settle in the area once they are nominated. Others require a tie to the region such as a job offer, family member, or previous work or study experience. This helps to ensure the candidate intends to remain in the region upon receiving permanent status in Canada.

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