A growing number of individuals are opting to make Atlantic Canada their home

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According to recent data released by Statistics Canada from the 2022 Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB), a trend is emerging in newcomer retention rates across Canada. Specifically, the report highlights a positive shift in immigrant retention rates within Atlantic Canada (comprising Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador), contrasting with a decline observed in the prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The IMDB analysis delves into provincial and territorial immigrant retention rates, focusing on the percentage of immigrant tax filers who filed taxes in the province or territory where they initially intended to reside in Canada, as specified in their application for permanent residence. This comprehensive dataset provides valuable insights into the evolving landscape of newcomer settlement patterns.

The analysis of five-year retention rates utilized tax filing data spanning from 2012 to 2016, while the examination of one-year rates was based on data spanning from 2016 to 2020. This comprehensive timeframe allowed for a thorough investigation into the trends and patterns of newcomer retention within different provinces and territories across Canada.

Ontario has highest overall rate of retention

Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta exhibited the highest retention rates after five years for newcomers who arrived in 2016, with all three provinces surpassing 84%. Notably, Ontario led with an impressive retention rate of 93.1%.

However, the study also highlights a concerning trend in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where there was a significant decline in the retention rates for newcomers who arrived between 2012 and 2016. Saskatchewan witnessed a notable decrease of 14%, dropping from 72.2% to 57.9%, while Manitoba experienced an 11% decline, decreasing from 75.1% to 64.1%.

This downward trend was similarly observed in the one-year retention rates for these provinces. In Manitoba, the one-year retention rate decreased from 78.4% for newcomers admitted in 2016 to 74.9% for those admitted in 2020.

Saskatchewan experienced a significant decline in retention, plummeting from 75.7% in 2016 to 64.6% in 2020, marking an 11.1 percentage point decrease.

In contrast, on Canada’s eastern seaboard, both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (PEI) saw improvements in immigrant retention for those admitted in 2016. New Brunswick achieved its highest five-year retention rate to date at 56%, signaling a positive trend. Meanwhile, although PEI still maintains the lowest retention rate in Canada at 30.9%, this figure represents an almost 6% increase compared to the retention rate for those admitted in 2012, indicating progress in newcomer integration efforts in the province.

One-year retention rates in both provinces exhibited varying patterns without clear trends. However, noteworthy findings emerged regarding Newfoundland and Labrador, where the one-year retention rate increased from 55% for those admitted in 2016 to 66.4% for those admitted in 2020, indicating a positive trajectory in newcomer retention within the province.

More Skilled workers staying in Atlantic Canada

The enhanced retention of skilled workers in the Atlantic provinces can be attributed to the initiation of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIP) in 2019. Subsequent to the introduction of the AIP, Nova Scotia witnessed a remarkable surge of 42.4 percentage points, escalating from 21.5% in 2016 to 63.9% in 2020.

Similarly, New Brunswick observed skilled worker retention rates of 65.8% in 2020, reflecting the positive impact of programs like the AIP on immigrant retention in the region. Newfoundland and Labrador also experienced a notable increase of 18.7 percentage points between 2016 and 2020, rising from 31.3% to 50%, underscoring the effectiveness of targeted immigration initiatives in fostering newcomer integration and retention.

The Atlantic Immigration Program stands as a pivotal regional economic immigration initiative designed to streamline the employment of foreign nationals in Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Participants in the program benefit from securing a job offer from a designated employer as well as receiving an individualized settlement plan tailored for their family, which accelerates their economic integration and fosters community connections.

These community ties significantly influence newcomers’ decisions regarding their long-term settlement preferences in Canada. As per the report, retention rates were notably higher among permanent residents who immigrated through family-class sponsorship programs.

To provide precision, among newcomers admitted in 2016, an impressive 91.7% of immigrants sponsored by family chose to remain within the province they initially landed in, underscoring the significance of familial support networks in facilitating successful settlement outcomes.

Why it matters

The study underscores the pivotal role that retaining economic immigrants plays in alleviating regional labor shortages.

The concentration of most newcomers in major urban centers within Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, often drawn by the presence of well-established immigrant communities, presents challenges for other Canadian provinces, particularly rural regions, in maintaining a robust labor force. In response to this, most provinces and territories (excluding Quebec and Nunavut) have implemented Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) to attract economic immigrants who best align with local workforce demands.

Through PNPs, provincial governments nominate candidates to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent resident status, aiming to distribute immigrant settlement more evenly across the country and address labor market needs at the local level.

Despite these efforts, the study highlights that skilled immigrants, especially those who arrive in rural or less densely populated areas, may face unique challenges in integrating into the workforce.

Despite being nominated through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), economic immigrants experienced a lower five-year retention rate, declining from 79.6% for those admitted in 2012 to 71.5% for 2016 admissions.
Nevertheless, economic immigrants who entered Canada via the Express Entry Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or through the caregiver pilot program exhibited remarkably high rates of retention. For instance, caregivers admitted in 2016 demonstrated an impressive retention rate of 94.9%, while CEC candidates boasted a retention rate of 88.1%.

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