New Brunswick Government to Fund Intercultural Centre

The Saint John city market. Canada’s only constitutionally bilingual province, New Brunswick, announced a new cultural centre that it hopes will assist immigrants settle and integrate in the city of Fredericton

New Brunswick Premier David Alward announced in May that his government would provide $2 million in funding to create a centre for ethno-cultural and settlement organizations in Fredericton.

The main tenant of the new centre will be the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, while the rest of the office space will be provided to other ethno-cultural and immigrants settlement service organizations.

Alward said the centre would advance the province’s goal of attracting skilled immigrants:

“Supporting this project is one way we can achieve this goal and attract and support more highly skilled workers and business immigrants.”

Post-Secondary Education Training and Labour Minister Danny Soucy added that the centre would increase the economic integration of immigrants by providing a central place where they can receive settlement services:

“These organizations serve an essential role in connecting with newcomers; creating needed support systems, facilitating labour market connections; and introducing new arrivals to their communities and neighbours. Bringing these services under one roof will help immigrants make the linkages necessary to participate fully in the community.”

The provincial government says the centre will also reduce costs for multicultural associations by adding scale to their services through resource sharing.

More than 5,000 immigrants have settled in Fredericton over the past decade.

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.

Nova Scotia Looking to Increase Immigration to Province

Halifax harbour at night. Nova Scotia’s premier is hoping to boost the province’s economy by inviting more skilled immigrants to the province and encouraging them to settle

Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s Maritime provinces, is seeking to increase the number of skilled immigrants that settle in the province, according to a new provincial strategy announced earlier this year.

The Maritimes region of Canada, which includes Nova Scotia, has suffered from chronic economic malaise over the last two decades, with the highest unemployment rates, the fastest aging population, and the lowest population growth rates of any region in the country.

Attracting skilled immigrants is seen as one way to address the critical skills shortage facing the region and reversing the looming population contraction.

Immigrant worker controversy

The use of immigrants and temporary foreign workers by the Maritime provinces to meet labour shortages has met some controversy however, as the region has the largest pool of unemployed workers in the country relative to its population.

Reforms by the federal government to the Employment Insurance system in 2012 were designed in part to reduce the reliance of seasonal workers in resource sectors in the Maritimes on EI for the portion of the year when they’re off work, in order to encourage more of the region’s population to work year round.

Still, the governments of the Maritime provinces continue to insist that skilled immigrants are an important tool for alleviating their demographic problems and bringing economic vitality to the region.

Nova Scotia Nominee Program

Nova Scotia has been pressing the federal government in recent years to increase the number of immigrants it allows it to nominate annually through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP), and as a result has seen its cap increase by 200 nominees, to a total of 700, in 2012.

The increase in its cap is not as fast as the provincial government would like, so it has been looking for ways to maximize the number of nominations it has available to it.

In a strategy announcement published in late February, the Nova Scotia government said that the international graduate stream of the NSNP would be eliminated, and foreign graduates seeking to apply for permanent residency through it would be redirected to the post-graduate stream of the federal Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The province says this will allow it to nominate more skilled workers using the spots freed up by moving the foreign graduate nominees to the federal program, and increase the total number of immigrants it invites to the province.

The Nova Scotia government also notes that skilled worker nominees are more likely to bring their families to Canada with them, thereby further increasing the population boost that the redirection of international graduates to the CEC will provide to the province.

Immigration Pushes Canadian Province’s Population Growth to 40 Year High

Cold winters have historically discouraged Canadian immigrants from settling in Manitoba, but a path to permanent residence through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program has increased the number of immigrants arriving in Manitoba and led to its largest population increase in 40 years this year

The population of Manitoba, a province in Canada’s prairie region, increased by 16,227 people over the last 12 months, which is the most in 40 years, according to the Manitoba provincial government.

The arrival of 15,199 immigrants to Manitoba over the last 12 months, the highest number since 1946, was the main reason for this year’s record population increase.

Many of the immigrants arrived through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP), which allows temporary residents with six months of work experience in Manitoba to qualify for nomination by the provincial government for permanent residence, subject to meeting official language proficiency requirements for semi-skilled workers.

Manitoba has historically drawn a low percentage of total Canadian immigrants due to its frigid winters and lack of any coastal cities, which tend to be favoured over inland cities.

To reverse this trend, the Manitoba government has been requesting that Citizenship and Immigration Canada increase the cap on the number of immigrants the province can nominate through its provincial nominee program from the current 5,000, to 20,000 by 2016.

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.

Provincial Government in Canada Criticizes Remarks About Immigrant Investor Program

A river walkway in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s largest city

The provincial government of Manitoba on Tuesday shot back at critics who have said the NDP government’s management of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) for Business has been a failure.

Among the critics are Manitoba Progressive Conservative immigration critic Bonnie Mitchelson and the former program manager for the MPNP for Business, Randy Boldt, who say that a report showing that only 20 percent of foreign investors nominated for permanent residence by the Manitoba provincial government have made their required investment points to a total program failure.

The government criticized those statistics as misleading and inaccurate, stating that immigration through the MPNP for Business is a two-step process, with the province first nominating individuals, and the federal government then admitting the individual, and that investor applicants only make their investment after the second step is complete.

The government says that the 20 percent figure is for all applicants who have completed the first step and been nominated by the Manitoba government, and includes many who have yet to complete the second step. Figures that only account for those who have completed both steps shows 60 percent of applicants end up making their investment.

The program requires all immigrant investor applicants to provide a $75,000 deposit, which they forfeit if they do not meet the program’s requirements of investing $150,000 into a Manitoba-based business within two years of arriving in Canada.

The Manitoba government says that $200 million has been invested into the provincial economy through the program since it began in 2000.

Government Report Recommends Increasing Immigration Levels in 2014

The internal government review finds that Australia’s experience suggests that basing immigration admittance on employment offers does not produce better results

The seven year freeze on increases in immigration levels beyond 253,000 should be lifted in 2014, according to an internal government review obtained by Postmedia News:

The study, dubbed a “Literature review and expert advice to inform Canada’s immigration levels planning,” suggests immigration levels should begin increasing six per cent a year to approximately 337,000 in 2018, after which levels should plateau until 2021, the end of the review period.

The report says that labour needs, based on economic projections, necessitate the increase.

Immigration levels as a percentage of Canada’s population have steadily fallen over the last seven years as the country has experienced population growth without a corresponding increase in the number of immigrants admitted.

Recent public opinion polls have indicated that the majority of Canadians oppose an increase in immigration levels, and this, along with recent studies showing a growing income gap between recent immigrants and native born Canadians, have encouraged the federal government to resist calls to increase immigration levels.

According to the Postmedia News report, the internal review calls for greater research into factors hampering the economic integration of immigrants and into comparisons between the economic performance of immigrants who enter through the federal skilled worker program and that of immigrants who enter through provincial nominee programs (PNPs).

The review also recommends against increasing the proportion of immigrants admitted through the PNPs, which clashes with calls from provincial governments to give them greater control over selecting the immigrants that enter Canada.

Provincial Premiers Call For Greater Say in Canadian Immigration

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney at the two day economic forum (Province of Nova Scotia)

The premiers of Canada’s provincial and territorial governments concluded a forum on economic development in Halifax today with a joint-call on the federal government to give them greater control over immigration.

“We want to become masters of our own destiny when it comes to the immigration file. Nobody better understands our needs and our capacity to accommodate and our capacity to develop new Canadians so they can develop to their fullest,” said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty at today’s news conference.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark added: “We want more space to be able to make our decisions about which immigrants will come to our provinces, where they will be settled and how many we’ll get.”

Quebec has had an independent immigration program since the 1970s, but the other provinces only started being delegated immigration selection powers over the last decade, with the signing of several federal-provincial agreements creating Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

While the number of provincial nominees has grown seven fold since 2004, with 42,000 to 45,000 individuals expected to immigrate under a PNP in 2012, the pace of change is not fast enough for the provinces, who want to select a greater share of the approximately 250,000 individuals who are admitted into Canada as permanent residents each year.

The provincial premiers say that being able to select their own immigrants gives them more power to control the direction of their economic development by selecting those individuals that have the skills to meet their regional labour shortages, which they say their governments are best positioned to assess.

The two-day economic forum was hosted by the Council of the Federation, an institution created by the provincial and territorial governments to facilitate collaboration between their respective governments.

The forum saw presentations from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Tyler Cowen, author of The Great Stagnation.

Court Forces Canadian Province to Reveal Names of Companies Involved in Immigrant Investor Program

Immigrants invested an estimated $120 million into PEI-based businesses through the PEI PNP Investor Program in 2007 and 2008 before it was shut down in 2009

A Provincial Crown Corporation responsible for managing Prince Edward Island’s (PEI) Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) was ordered by a court this month to release a list of 1,423 businesses that were approved to receive funding from immigrant investors.

The Crown Corporation, Island Investment Development Inc (IIDI), was initially successful in blocking requests under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), by applicants that included the CBC, Canada’s largest news broadcaster, for it to release the names of the businesses that it approved to receive investments through a now defunct “Immigrant partner” stream of the PEI PNP.

Under the Immigrant partner component of the PNP, the government of PEI would grant nominations for Canadian permanent residence to immigrants who made a $200,000 investment into a qualified PEI business and who had a net worth of at least $400,000.

PEI’s privacy commissioner ruled that disclosure of the names of the businesses and the number of PNP investment units that each received through the program would violate the FOIPPA by revealing financial information about the companies that they had a reasonable expectation of remaining confidential when they applied for the program.

The CBC subsequently appealed to the PEI Supreme Court to over-turn the privacy commissioner’s decision, and on November 2nd, the court did just that for one portion of the CBC’s request: the release of the names of the businesses.

The privacy commission’s decision to uphold IIDI’s refusal to release the number of investment units it approved for each company was upheld by the presiding judge, Justice Wayne Cheverie, as he argued that the minimum net worth of the concerned companies could be deduced from this information, given it was a criteria for eligibility under the program.

The list of companies was posted online by the CBC, and can be found here.

PEI currently has an active immigrant investor program, but unlike the Immigrant partner program which allowed for an unlimited number of nominations, the current program is capped at 400 applications per year.