Manitoba Premier: Western Provinces Asked for Increase in Immigration Limit

A crop field near Winnipeg, Manitoba. The western provinces of Canada called on the federal government to raise their provincial nominee program caps in a meeting on Monday (Shahnoor Munmun)

Canada’s western provinces called on the federal government to remove the caps on their provincial immigration programs on Monday, according to a recent Bloomberg News interview with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.

Selinger said the limits the federal government places on the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are making it difficult for them to fill their labour shortages:

“We’ve seen some changes that have potentially put a crimp in our ability to grow our economies and have people living in our communities.”

A PNP is a province specific program that allows the provincial government to nominate foreign nationals for permanent residency. Each PNP is limited to nominating a certain number of individuals per year, with each province’s cap being determined by the federal government.

Canada’s western provinces, which have one of the best performing regional economies in the developed world, have over the last decade been allowed to nominate a steadily increasing number of foreigners per year.

The first PNP started as a pilot project in Manitoba in 1997, and has subsequently expanded to all of the provinces, with the provincial governments looking to it as a way to counteract the ageing of their populations.

Vancouver City Gov Introduces Universal Access Card for Recreational Facilities

The seawall that encircles Stanley Park. Accessing Vancouver’s recreational facilities will get easier with the introduction of the OneCard in September 2013

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation announced last week that it will introduce a new universal access card for pools, rinks, fitness centres and community centres in the city.

The OneCard will replace over twenty separate cards used to access recreational facilities in Vancouver, making life more convenient for the city’s residents.

The universal access card will only enhance Vancouver’s stature as one of the best cities in the world for recreational activities.

Vancouver is one of the top destinations for new immigrants to Canada and is often rated at or the near top of international rankings for qualify of life, largely due to its many parks and recreational facilities and proximity to mountains, lush coastal forests and ocean.

The city is especially well known for its exceptional settings for outdoor activities. Stanley Park, a large park bordering downtown Vancouver, attracts approximately eight million visitors annually, and has been rated the sixth best park in North America.

The park has approximately 200 kilometres of trails and road, including a seawall encircling the entire peninsula which is used by an estimated 2.5 million pedestrians, cyclists, and inline skaters each year.

48% of Canadian Millionaires From Immigrant Families

A new survey on Canadian millionaires finds that 48 percent are new Canadians and 68 percent are self-made (Government of Canada)

A new survey by BMO Harris Private Banking finds that nearly half of Canadian millionaires are either immigrants or have at least one parents born outside of the country.

The findings suggest a high degree of entrepreneurialism among the Canadian immigrant population, and contrasts with the theme of a recent special contribution to the Vancouver Sun that argues immigrants cost the Canadian $20 billion annually.

The survey further found that 68 percent of immigrant and first-generation millionaires report being self-made – about equal to the 67 percent rate among all Canadian millionaires surveyed.

The province of British Columbia has the highest proportion of millionaires belonging to immigrant families, at 68 percent, while the rate in every other province is below 50 percent.

The BMO Harris Private Banking survey was conducted online by Pollara between March 28th and April 11th, 2013, using a sample of 305 Canadian adults with a net worth of over 1 million dollars.

B.C. Spends Less On Health, Has Healthiest Population in Canada

Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada. B.C. is ranked as having one of the best health care systems in Canada thanks to high ratings on the health-related lifestyle habits and health outcomes of its residents (Arnold C.)

British Columbia has the healthiest residents among the Canadian provinces according to a new Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) study.

The B.C. provincial government spends less than almost all other Canadian provinces on health care, but still comes out on top in the health care ranking thanks to the healthy lifestyles of B.C. residents, who have the lowest smoking rates in the country.

The CBoC report rates provincial health care system performance according to a total of 90 indicators within four categories: Lifestyle Factors, Health Status, Health Resources, and Health Care System Performance.

Lifestyle Factors measures the behavior of a province’s population that affects health, including the rate of smoking, heavy drinking, obesity, fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity.

B.C. has the best score in both the Lifestyle Factors and Health Status categories, which was enough to earn it one of only three As granted in the Overall Performance rating.

The other provinces scoring an A in Overall Performance were Alberta and Ontario. Both provinces have more government spending on health care than B.C., and both received a higher score in Health Care System Performance, which measures disease screening, waiting times and accessibility for procedures, effectiveness of treatments and the appropriateness of treatments.

Residents of Alberta and Ontario fell short of British Columbians in their health status however, with lower birth weights, higher infant mortality, and more years of life lost to illness.

More New Immigrants Moving to Smaller Cities- Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg Among Most Popular

A downtown Vancouver sidewalk. The portion of new Canadian immigrants that settled in Vancouver declined from 13.7 percent in 2006 to 13.3 percent in 2011 as Canada’s smaller cities, particularly in the prairies, attracted newcomers with their strong labour markets (CICS News)

A Vancouver Sun report published Wednesday, titled Canada’s ‘Big Three’ metro areas lose lustre as newcomers opt for smaller cities, examines the phenomenon of immigrants choosing the Big Three Canadian cities less in favour of Canada’s smaller cities:

Released Wednesday by Statistics Canada, the 2011 numbers reveal that Toronto’s share of newcomers fell to 32.8 per cent, down from 40.4 per cent in 2006, while Vancouver’s share dropped to 13.3 per cent from 13.7 per cent. Montreal was the only “Big Three” immigration city to post a gain: 16.3 per cent of newcomers, versus 14.9 per cent in 2006.

Excluding the Big Three, the cities drawing the most newcomers were those with the most promising job markets: Calgary, at 6.1 percent of all new immigrants, Edmonton (4.3 percent), and Winnipeg (3.9 percent).

The oil wealth of Alberta has contributed to the province having the lowest unemployment rate and the highest per capita GDP in the country, making the immigration shift to that province’s cities unsurprising.

Another factor contributing to the shift to cities other than the Big Three is the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), which provide those hoping to immigrate to Canada with new routes to immigrate if they are able to acquire eligible work experience in a province.

Some PNPs, like the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP), have a lower work experience threshold for eligibility and are granted a higher quota by the federal government for the number of foreign nationals they can nominate for permanent residence annually, and this has resulted in a boost in the number of immigrants settling in their corresponding provinces.

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.

Immigrant Income Levels Depend on Canadian Immigration Program

Data from the Statistics Canada report on the income of immigrants, released in December, shows large differences in the economic performance of immigrants depending on which immigration program they were admitted through (Moxy)

In the second part of our series on the recently released Statistics Canada report on the income of immigrants, we delve deeper into the data and look at how various economic class immigration programs compare for immigrants who arrived between 1986 and 2010. The first part can be found here.

Among the most important immigration-related issues for the federal government every year is picking the right mix of immigration programs to make up the annual quota that it sets aside for new permanent residents.

The major priorities that the federal government seeks to meet in selecting the allocation are:

  • meeting the humanitarian commitments it has set for itself to re-settle a certain portion of the world’s refugees
  • accommodating Canadians whose family members live abroad and who they would like to re-unite with through family class immigration sponsorship
  • admitting immigrants that will contribute to Canada’s economy and meet its investment and labour needs

To meet the last objective, the federal government currently allocates 60 percent of the permanent residence quota to economic class immigration programs, which consist of the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the business class programs, and the provincial nominee class programs.

Historically, the skilled worker program (FSWC) has contributed the largest portion of Canada’s economic class immigrants, but there have been calls to increase the proportion admitted through programs in the business and provincial nominee classes.

The provincial governments in particular have frequently called on the federal government to allow them to pick a greater share of Canada’s immigrants through their respective provincial nominee programs (PNPs), which has resulted in their quotas being increased from 2,500 in 1999, to over 30,000 in 2009.

Whether the FSWC should remain the mainstay of Canadian economic-class immigration or whether the PNPs, or perhaps business class programs, should continue to see their role expanded, is a question that the StatCan report can help answer.

The 30 year longitudinal study (we have only reproduced 24 years of it, as we assessed the data from 1980-1986 to be too limited to be useful) has a few surprising findings.

Income of immigrants by immigration program. Skilled worker class immigrants see the most wage growth over the 24 year period.

Early success for PNP immigrants, long-term success of the skilled worker class immigrants

Immigrants admitted through the FSWC earn significantly more than those admitted through the business classes, and after seven years in Canada, more than PNP class immigrants.

Average income in 2010 for skilled worker class immigrants. The graph shows rapid income gains in the first few years following immigration, followed by more gradual income growth

PNP-class immigrants earn nearly double what other immigrants earn in the first year of their permanent residence. This is most likely due to the fact that a person needs to already be in Canada and working to qualify for most provincial nominee programs, whereas immigrants who become permanent residents through the FSWC or business class programs arrive in Canada for the first time on the day they receive their permanent residency.

The data shows that the PNPs’ lead in income quickly closes, as FSWC immigrants see rapid income gains in their first few years in Canada.

Average income in 2010 for provincial nominee (PNP) class immigrants. PNP-class immigrants start out with much higher incomes than other economic-class immigrants

It should be taken into account however that the data on PNP-class immigrants that arrived in the early 2000s is quite limited, given the provincial nominee programs admitted fewer than 10,000 immigrants for most of the first of half of the 2000s, so the long term income growth statistics for the PNP class could change over-time.

Poor performance of business class immigrants

The business class immigrants, despite having met demanding minimum net worth requirements to qualify for immigration to Canada, have lower income levels than skilled worker and provincial nominee class immigrants, especially in the first few years after they arrive.

Over the long run, their income gradually converges with the skilled worker class, but this takes nearly 24 years and it never meets the level of their skilled worker counterparts.

One partial exception to this is immigrants from the Africa and Middle East region. Business class immigrants in this group see their income surpass skilled worker class-immigrants from the same region after 24 years.

Average income in 2010 for business class immigrants. Business class immigrants from the Africa and Middle East region see significant income growth over a 24 year period

Cause of business class under-performance

Ideally, business class immigrants, with their substantial capital and business experience, would be the biggest contributors to the Canadian economy among the country’s immigrant population.

One possible explanation for their lower than expected incomes is that they keep their investments abroad.

Canada, which has relatively high average personal income tax rates, is out-matched in investment opportunities by many regions in the world, like the rapidly developing Asian country of South Korea, which has average personal income tax rates and government expenditure levels that are one third lower than Canada.

While business-class immigrants could choose to remain invested abroad, skilled worker class immigrants likely benefit from working in Canada, since it is a high-income country that provides better wages than the vast majority of the world, and in any case they have few options other than working and earning their salary in Canada, since labour is not mobile like capital.

If investment opportunities in Canada being comparatively poor is in fact the cause of lower than expected income performance of business class immigrants, this is not a problem that the federal government can fix by changing immigration selection rules.

Vancouver 5th Place in Global Quality of Life Ranking

Vancouver once again ranked at the top among Canadian cities in a global quality of life index thanks to its temperate climate and the quality of its infrastructure

The Mercer 2012 Quality of Life Ranking has again placed Vancouver as the top spot to live in Canada and the Americas. Beating out the West Coast city globally were Vienna, Austria (1st), Zurich, Switzerland (2nd), Auckland, New Zealand (3rd), and Munich, Germany (4th).

Other Canadian cities lost points to Vancouver because of their colder climates which according to the index affects quality of life. Calgary (32nd), which has experienced an economic boom over the last two decades thanks to Alberta’s expanding oil production, also lost points to Vancouver, and other Canadian cities, due to a lack of an international airport.

The Mercer index also ranked cities by the quality of their infrastructure, an area where Vancouver also ranked well in, placing 9th worldwide and first in the Americas. The top spot for infrastructure went to the South East Asian free market bastion of Singapore, followed by the Northern European metropolises of Frankfurt (tied 2nd), Munich (tied 2nd), Copenhagen (4th), Düsseldorf (5th) and London (tied 6th).

Three other Canadian cities ranked in the top five in the Americas in the quality of life rankings: at second Ottawa (14th), at third Toronto (15th), and placing fourth Montreal (23rd). Honolulu, Hawaii (28th) rounded out the top 5 in the Americas.

Fast Track Option of Popular BC Immigrant Investor Program Suspended For Review

The BC provincial government announced on Thursday that the Fast Track option in the business component of the BC PNP would be suspended, pending review of its economic contribution to the province's economy

The BC government announced on Thursday that it is suspending the Fast Track nomination option in the business stream of the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP).

Through the business immigration stream of the BC PNP, foreign nationals who invest at least $200,000 to $400,000 to start or purchase and expand a qualifying BC-based business, are nominated for permanent residency by the BC provincial government after two years.

Under the regular BC PNP business program, candidates receive a two year work permit, during which time they are required to meet the business requirements detailed in the PNP performance agreement.

At the conclusion of the two year period, the BC government reviews their business, and if it fulfills the conditions of the program, nominates them for immigration.

The Fast Track option of the BC PNP business program is a special stream that allows candidates who make a $125,000 deposit to the BC government to receive a nomination for permanent residency immediately upon arriving in Canada, instead of being required to wait two years and fulfil their PNP performance agreement first.

Applicants who do not meet the obligations set out in BC PNP performance agreement forfeit their $125,000 deposit but can still keep their permanent residency status.

The BC government said that it would review this Fast Track option to see if it contributes to the province’s economy and that the suspension will not affect the regular business immigration stream of the BC PNP.