Burlington, Ontario Ranks as Best City in Canada for Immigrants

Burlington, Ontario, pictured above, was ranked as the best place to live in Canada for new immigrants by MoneySense magazine in their 2013 quality of life index (Andrew Lynes)

MoneySense, a Canadian personal finance magazine, has released its annual Best Places to Live for 2013 index, and Calgary takes the number one spot as the best place to live in Canada overall, while Burlington, Ontario is ranked as the best city for new immigrants.

The index scores cities according to 11 groups of indicators, which include commuting, crime, housing, weather, and wealth, and which are weighted according to what the authors think is most relevant to quality of life.

Calgary and Burlington both ranked at the top largely thanks to their strong economies, which gives them an average household income of $125,733 and $110,031, respectively.

The index’s Best Places to Live for New Immigrants ranking also looks at the percentage of the city’s population that is made up of immigrants, and the cost of a one bedroom apartment, to tally its final score, based on the assumption that a large existing immigrant population and affordable rent make it easier for a new immigrant to settle in a city.

One notable omission from the top rankings was Vancouver and its neighbouring municipalities. Vancouver historically has ranked at the top of not just Canadian, but international quality of life indices, but MoneySense gave the city a ranking of 52nd in its overall index, while it performed better in the Best Places for New Immigrants index, at 10th, thanks to its large existing immigrant communities.

North Vancouver was the best performing municipality in the Greater Vancouver region, at 21st overall, followed by Port Coquitlam, at 31st.

Besides Calgary, other major Canadian cities that placed high in the rankings were:

6. Ottawa, Ontario

11. Edmonton, Alberta

12. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

16. Winnipeg, Manitoba

17. Regina, Saskatchewan

Nearly all of the top ranking major cities were Western Canadian, thanks to the relatively strong economic performance of the region in recent years.

Irish Immigration Shift from Australia to Canada, Fuelled by Calgary’s Economy

Dublin, Ireland. Canada is becoming a more popular destination for Irish emigrants who have many of the skills in demand in Canada’s resource sectors (Jimmy Harris)

A story in Saturday’s Irish Times examines the increase in Irish immigration to Canada as the country’s workers seek employment abroad.

The article notes two trends in recent years: Canada being increasingly favoured by Irish emigrants over Australia and the age of the average Irish emigrant increasing:

“The most noticeable trend over the past 12 months has been the swing away from Australia towards Canada, which has been driven by the demand from employers and from the Canadian department of immigration,” says David Walsh, sales manager for the Working Abroad Expo. “They are going through a skills shortage, and in Calgary, the economic heartland of Canada, 19 of the 25 skillsets most in demand are readily available in Ireland. ”

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Everyone who speaks to The Irish Times for this article says the rising average age of emigrants and the number of families leaving are the most notable trends of recent months.

Of the 527 people at the Working Abroad Expo who responded to a survey by University College Cork’s Emigre project that traces recent emigration patterns, 44 per cent were over 30, and 14 per cent were 40 or older. More than one in five had mortgages in Ireland, and 27 per cent had children.

Canadian immigration authorities have made efforts to encourage Irish immigration, as the country’s nationals are seen to integrate quickly into the Canadian economy due to their high English language proficiency and cultural affinity to Canada.

Irish workers are also in demand by employers in many sectors in Canada due to having soft skills and technical expertise relevant to Canadian jobs, as a result of having acquired their work experience in Ireland’s advanced and Westernized economy.

The Calgary job engine

Calgary’s petroleum and gas industry is the draw for much of the Irish immigration to Canada. The city has the highest per capita GDP in Canada among the major cities and provides wages far above the Canadian average.

Many sectors in the Calgary region are experiencing difficulty in finding a sufficient number of workers with the necessary skills, which has prompted extensive campaigns to recruit abroad, including several delegations sent by Calgary-based companies to Ireland’s Working Abroad Expo last October.

Alberta’s economic growth is expected to exceed the G8 average over the coming years due to the projected increase in production in the oil sands region in the north of the province, which will likely continue to make Canada an attractive destination for immigrants from around the world.

Federal Government to Provide $160,000 for Immigrant Women Organization in Calgary

The federal government announced it is giving the Calgary Immigrant Women Association $160,000 to help immigrant women in Calgary find employment in the city

The federal government announced on Monday that it will provide $160,000 in funding to the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) to help it carry out a 24 month project to help low-literacy immigrant women in Calgary.

The CIWA project will engage Calgary’s social service agencies and business community to create solutions for reducing barriers for employment for immigrant women in order to increase their economic security and prosperity.

“Through this project, we are working to ensure that new Canadian women are able to contribute to, and reap the tremendous benefits of, our Canadian economy,” said Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women Rona Ambrose in announcing the funding.

CIWA provides services like literacy education, support for child care and employment counselling to immigrant women in the Calgary area.

CanadianBusiness: Vancouver Could Be The Next Calgary

The LNG plant planned in Kitimat, pictured above, is expected to increase natural gas industry revenues in British Columbia, which would benefit the province’s commercial centre, Vancouver

An article appearing in the online edition of last Tuesday’s Canadian Business magazine suggests that Vancouver stands to follow in Calgary’s footsteps and become an energy company magnet:

The management of Canada’s oil and gas industry has become, over the past few decades, ever more concentrated in Calgary. To many, Imperial Oil’s 2005 move from Toronto sealed the deal.

But that pattern is now showing some notable exceptions. Giants of the energy industry are suddenly setting up offices in Vancouver instead, and it looks like they’re here to stay.

Alberta in general and Calgary specifically have for years stood apart in Canada for having the highest per capita GDP, the lowest unemployment rates and the most rapid population growth among all provinces and cities, respectively, in the country.

The source of Alberta’s and by extension Calgary’s wealth has been its large petroleum industry, which has experienced growth in recent years as production in Northern Alberta’s oil sands has increased.

Canadian Business magazine says that newly discovered natural gas fields in northern Alberta and British Columbia, and the planned construction of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) conversion and export plants in Kitimat and Prince Rupert in B.C.’s northern coast, have attracted Vancouver the same type of attention from energy companies that Calgary has enjoyed for years:

Not only the terminals but most of the source wells and pipeline infrastructure will be located in B.C., making the provincial government the principal regulator. So it makes sense for companies to run their operations close to Victoria, and even closer to the contractors, suppliers and a potentially hostile public. “You could see B.C. double its natural gas production, and all of that would go toward LNG,” says Greg Kist, vice-president of marketing at Progress Energy. “It indicates that there is going to be significant pace of investment in Vancouver.” Kist expects his company’s West Coast office will in time have 200 employees.

It addition to natural gas production and transport, B.C.’s position in between Alberta and the Pacific Coast makes it an important pathway for oil pipelines, a fact that has spurred Calgary-based Enbridge, which operates the largest pipeline system in the world, to recently decide to open an office in Vancouver.

Immigrants already account for 40 percent of the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s population. If the city experiences an energy boom on the scale of what Calgary has undergone, that would make it all the more alluring to immigrants and Canadians from other regions of the country.

Report Projects Oil Sands to Contribute Trillions to the Canadian Economy

The Deloitte report says pipelines are the most efficient way to transport oil produced in Western Canada

A comprehensive report on the challenges and opportunities of Canada’s oil sands by auditing giant Deloitte projects that the hydrocarbon deposits will contribute an estimated $2.1 trillion to Canada’s GDP over the next 25 years.

The economic benefits of the added wealth include up to $783 billion in extra tax revenues over the period, which will provide a significant boost to local, provincial and federal governments and help them meet the growing costs of providing social services to an ageing population.

In addition to tax revenue, the export revenue generated from oil sands production will fund up to 905,000 jobs a year according to the Deloitte report.

The report cites lack of pipeline infrastructure as a potential limiting factor in the growth of Canada’s energy exports, as oil production is expected to reach current pipeline capacity by 2017.

Oil producers are currently look to use alternative transportation methods, in particular rail transport, to move the oil to international markets once pipeline capacity has been reached, but these solutions are expensive and inefficient in the long run, and the report says more efficient pipeline transportation will be required to fully realize the oil sands’ potential.

The report mentions the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) as three pending infrastructure projects that are critical for providing sufficient conduits for getting Canada’s oil sands production to world markets.

According to Deloitte, the benefits of completing these projects include: 1) reducing up to $131 billions in losses that are currently incurred from Canadian oil being sold at below market prices due to lack of access to world markets, 2) reducing over-reliance on the US market, and 3) getting access to the fastest growing oil consuming regions of the world in India and China.

The biggest challenge in the oil sands development according to the report is the poor public perception of the oil industry in Canada and the hyperbolic nature of the debate surrounding the potential environmental harm of oil pipelines. The report urges a more fact-based debate on the costs and benefits of pipeline construction that avoids broad generalizations and sweeping judgements about environmental criticism, the oil industry, and energy projects.

Toronto Tops CIBC’s Annual Metropolitan Economic Index for Canadian Cities

Toronto has ranked near the top of the Canadian Metropolitan Economic Activity Index for five of the last seven years (Paul Bica)

Toronto leads all Canadian cities with a score of 20.6 points in the most recent CWM Metropolitan Economic Activity Index, which rates the economic activity of Canadian cities according to nine economic variables selected by CIBC’s World Markets subsidiary.

The indicators used in formulating the Index score include a city’s unemployment rate, population growth, bankruptcy rate and housing starts growth rate.

While Toronto did not lead other major Canadian cities in any of the nine areas of economic activity, it consistently ranked near the top in most of the categories, providing it with the highest cumulative score.

Toronto’s manufacturing sector benefited from an increase in automobile purchases in the United States as that country experienced an economic recovery, and an expansion of its construction industry, as housing starts, led by condominium construction, unexpectedly grew in the city.

Trailing Toronto in the top six Canadian cities were the Prairie metropolises of Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Edmonton in descending rank.

Calgary, coming second with a score of 19.5 points, continued to benefit from having one of the lowest unemployment rates, highest home sales growth rates, and highest population growth rates of Canadian metropolises.