A recent economic report from Desjardins suggests that Canada’s increased immigration goals are likely to have a positive impact on provincial economies, particularly in the western provinces.
Since 2015, immigrants have consistently outnumbered Canadian-born workers in net new positions, accounting for 70% of employment gains. In fact, as of 2019, the employment rate for new immigrants in almost every province was higher than for Canadian-born workers.
These gains were not affected much by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, employment among new immigrants increased, which helped narrow the gap between the unemployment rate for new immigrants and Canadian-born workers, to 5.3% versus 5% in 2022.
Noting the expected economic downturn in the coming year, the report says there are potentially widespread economic consequences for newcomers to different parts of Canada during the coming recession and eventual recovery. The Bank of Canada expects national GDP growth to be only 1% in 2023, down from 3.6% in 2022.
Which provinces are benefiting from immigration?
The report balances economic outcomes for individual provinces based on factors relative to immigration level planning. For example, it made projections on province economies with changes to higher immigration targets for the next three years, the average percentage of newcomers settling in each province, and how immigrants integrated into the economy in various time periods, including pre-war. Pandemic and the present.
The report shows that, if current immigration trends continue, the largest immigration-related economic gains from higher national immigration targets will occur in the provinces, British Columbia, the Prairie Provinces and Prince Edward Island (PEI). PEI accepts the most immigrants per capita of any Canadian province.
In addition, if Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan can attract a greater number of newcomers, these provinces would experience a significant increase of between 0.3 and 0.6 percentage points to their GDP. They can do this by creating stronger economic conditions and better affordability to attract a higher share of newcomers over the next few years.
A province with more jobs and higher rates of employment is a primary factor in attracting and retaining immigrants. That being said, the increased employment rate by itself does not have a significant impact on the province’s GDP.
Immigration will only strengthen the provincial economy if newcomers settle in a community for a long period of time and contribute to the local economy by participating in day-to-day expenses. Immigration has a high potential economic contribution when a province’s immigrant intake makes up a large proportion of the existing population and they can be easily integrated into the labor market.
Recent Immigrants Are Doing Well Because of Federal Policy
Economists attribute the strong labor market performance of recent immigrants to federal policy. During the pandemic, the federal government increased the number of permanent residents in Canada by inviting more temporary foreign workers and international students. This meant that many new permanent residents were already living in Canada and had Canadian work experience, making it much easier for them to integrate and enter the labor force.
The report also noted that provinces with larger populations (as measured in terms of oil consumption) began 2020 with greater economic momentum and tighter labor markets, which meant greater labor shortages during the pandemic and appeared to This has prompted many firms to hire new people recently.
The report concludes that immigration targets alone, while potentially helpful to the Canadian economy, are not sufficient to ensure that Canada sees significant economic benefits. It recommends that Canada continue to place emphasis on inviting immigrants with in-demand skill sets.
There are over 100 economic immigration routes for newcomers to Canada. Many of them are within the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Under the PNP, each province and territory (except Quebec and Nunavut) can select candidates with skills that will benefit the local economy. These programs often issue invitations to candidates who can help address local labor shortages in areas such as technology, skilled trades or healthcare.
There are also several types of immigration programs that target broad areas in Canada, such as the Atlantic Immigration Program and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program. Under these programs, candidates are offered significant assistance from their employers such as settlement services and access to healthcare.
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