Atlantic Canada is retaining more of its immigrants since launching the pilot program five years ago that became the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) in 2022, reveals Statistics Canada data.

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“Three years into the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP), the one-year retention rate of skilled workers and skilled trades categories had risen substantially in all Atlantic provinces,” notes Statistics Canada.

“However, such trends were not observed in most other provinces during the same period.”

Nova Scotia enjoys the most significant increase in the immigration retention rate

Nova Scotia enjoyed the most significant bump in its retention rate. The one-year retention rate of immigrants admitted in that province as skilled workers and skilled tradespersons in 2019, at 67.6 per cent, was more than three times higher than that of those admitted in 2016, at 21.5 per cent, before the AIPP was introduced.

“New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador’s one-year retention rates were also notably higher, each increasing by about 22 percentage points in four years,” notes the statistical and demographic services agency.

Prince Edward Island had the lowest five-year retention rate but the largest increase among recent arrivals.

Launched in 2017 in response to the low retention rates and the shrinking labour force in the Atlantic provinces, the AIPP recruits skilled foreign workers and international graduates and sees employers work with settlement service provider organizations to boost the retention of immigrants and their families.

Using the 2021 Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) released in early December, Statistics Canada has painted a picture of which provinces best managed to hang onto immigrants who settle there.

“Among immigrants admitted from 2010 to 2015, those who intended to reside in Ontario, British Columbia or Alberta were the most likely to stay in those provinces five years after their arrival,” notes Statistics Canada.

“The five-year retention rates of these three provinces were relatively consistent over time, with the exception of Alberta, where there was a drop from 88.9 per cent among immigrants who arrived in 2014 to 84.5 per cent among those who arrived in 2015.”

In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, provincial governments had a tougher time retaining immigrants.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan saw drops in their immigrant retention rates

“Both provinces’ retention rates decreased by more than 10 percentage points from the 2010 admission cohort to 2015,” noted Statistics Canada.

A good predictor of a province’s ability to hang onto its immigrants is the level of previous work experience of its newcomers. International students are the most likely to move out of a province but those who come to a province for a job are likely to stay.

“Among those admitted from 2010 to 2015 and who only had a work permit prior to admission, over 89 per cent filed taxes in their province or territory of admission five years after admission,” reports Statistics Canada.

“In contrast, those who only had a study permit prior to admission had the lowest provincial retention rates. The retention rate of this group was 82.5 per cent among those admitted in 2010 and fell to 74.7 per cent among those admitted in 2015.”

Those immigrants coming to Canada through family sponsorship programs were the most likely to stay put.

“Among immigrants admitted in 2010, 92.6 per cent of those sponsored by family remained in their province or territory of admission five years after admission, compared with 92.3 per cent among those admitted in 2015,” noted Statistics Canada.

“The five-year provincial retention rate of refugees was 86.1 per cent among the 2010 admission cohort and increased slightly to 87.4 per cent among that of 2015.”

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