Last Updated on November 26, 2021

Newfoundland & Labrador has the highest rate of unemployment of any province in Canada and yet is still facing acute labour shortages in many sectors of its economy and very much looking to immigration to rebuild.

“Housing markets have emerged as a bright spot (in Newfoundland & Labrador) after years of underperformance,” wrote economists Beata Caranci, Derek Burleton, Rishi Sondhi, and Omar Abdelrahman in their TD Economics Provincial Economic Forecast earlier this year.

“Starts are anticipated to grow a whopping 70 per cent this year, by far the largest increase in the country. Similarly, home sales in Newfoundland and Labrador are expected to record the second largest increase behind Alberta this year.”

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In the hospitality sector, restaurant spending had already jumped by 29 per cent in June this year compared to the same month in 2020.

Newfoundland Seeing Job Growth and Healthy Economic Activity 

“The rebound back to pre-pandemic levels of employment is only lagging that of Canada slightly, and growth in hours worked is running ahead of every province barring British Columbia,” reports TD Economics.

The province lovingly referred to as The Rock by Newfoundlanders, is by far the region of Canada with the highest unemployment rate, hitting 13.9 per cent of its labour force in October this year, according to Statistics Canada.

That overall rate, though, is somewhat misleading because the unemployment rate in the province’s capital city, St. John’s is much, much lower, as little as a third of the provincial rate. 

The unemployment rate the federal government uses to calculate employment insurance benefits for workers is only 6.2 per cent in St. John’s, compared to 18.6 per cent in the rest of the province.

The resurgence of some sectors of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy, coupled with the low unemployment rate in its biggest city, provides plenty of opportunity for those immigrants who want to settle in a province known for its rugged beauty, wilderness areas, and spectacular coastline.

Newfoundland is bullish on immigration. Earlier this year, the province launched the Pathways Job Matching program which is designed to help employers fill full-time jobs and newcomers find work more easily.

“By directly matching employers in need with people wanting to live and work here, we are helping to address the workforce needs of employers and support population growth,” said Gerry Byrne, the province’s minister of Immigration, Population Growth, and Skills, in making the announcement.

Pathways Job Matching Program Helps Newcomers Find Employment

“Participating employers provide details on their vacant full-time jobs. Then, qualifying newcomers provide their job qualifications,” said Byrne. “Once that occurs, our staff will begin matching newcomers who need jobs with employers who need workers.”

Here’s how the new program works. 

Employers looking for workers visit the Pathways Job Matching program website and provide information on their full-time job openings. They can then submit details about their workforce needs on an on-going basis and can e-mail the province to get answers to any questions they might have at [email protected].

Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to almost triple the number of new immigrants that settle in the province from its pre-Covid-19 pandemic high of 1,850 in 2019 to 5,100 new permanent residents per year in 2026, less than five years from now.

Newfoundland Immigration Climbing Steadily Pre-Pandemic

Before the pandemic, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) figures show immigration to the province was steadily rising. 

The number of new permanent residents rose from 1,125 in 2015 to 1,190 the following year. In 2017, immigration edged down a bit to 1,170 new permanent residents but that then climbed by almost 30.8 per cent to hit 1,530 in 2018.

In 2019, the last full year before the arrival of Covid-19 in Canada, the number of new permanent residents in Newfoundland and Labrador rose again, this time by 20.9 per cent, to hit 1,850.

Last year, immigration to the province fell by almost 51.1 per cent, to no more than 905 new permanent residents. 

But Ottawa and the province’s vaccination programs and gradual loosening of the public health restrictions has led to the re-opening of the Canadian border and a rise in immigration again this year. 

By the end of September, Newfoundland and Labrador had already received 1,080 new permanent residents, putting the province on track to welcome 1,440 new permanent residents by the end of this year.

Hospitality Sector In Dire Need

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there is an urgent need for more people to work in the restaurant sector as servers, cooks, and bartenders. Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada’s vice president for Atlantic Canada, has described the labour shortages as “unprecedented”.

“I’ve heard of restaurants changing their hours, closing earlier,” he said earlier this year. “The staff they have is burning out.”

Restaurants Canada’s latest survey shows that 80 per cent of restaurateurs are having trouble hiring kitchen staff and 67 per cent are having difficulty finding servers and staff to bus tables.

Construction firms are also in hiring mode with the number of jobs in this sector increasing by 20,000, or 1.4 per cent, in August alone. That’s the first time since March that sector has seen job growth.

A quick solution for employers facing labour shortages may be the Global Talent Stream (GTS) of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) under which Canadian work permits and visa applications are processed within two weeks.

Applying For An In-Demand Occupation

Under the Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP), a joint federal-provincial program targeting skilled workers and international students, employers can hire foreign nationals and international graduates In-Demand Occupations without labour market testing.

That In-Demand Occupations list currently covers: the healthcare sector; information and communications technology specialists, and; jobs in the aquaculture industry.

These occupations are exempt from provincial labour market testing processes, such as the Job Vacancy Assessment and Atlantic Immigration Program labour market testing requirements, such as advertising, and will get priority processing by the province.

These are the in-demand occupations in Newfoundland and Labrador by sector:


  1. Physicians, including:
  • Family Medicine; 
  • Psychiatry; 
  • Pathology; 
  • General Internal Medicine; 
  • Radiology; 
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology; 
  • Anesthesia; 
  • Pediatric Intensivists; 
  • Neonatologists; 
  • Pathology (Hemopathology).
  1. Nurse Practitioner 
  2. Licensed Practical Nurse 
  3. Personal Care Attendant 
  4. Clinical Psychologist
  5. Medical Physicist
  6. Radiation Therapist
  7. Dosimetrist

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Engineers and Developers

  1. Software Developer
  2. Biomedical Engineer
  3. UI/UX Developer
  4. Electrical Engineer
  5. AI Developer
  6. Mechanical Engineer
  7. Python Developer
  8. Web Developer
  9. .NET Developer
  10. Infrastructure Engineer

Technical Specialists

  1. Security Specialist
  2. Cloud Specialist
  3. Bioinformatician
  4. Computer Network Support
  5. Research Associate
  6. Data Analytics
  7. Offshore Technician
  8. ROV Operator
  9. Ocean Mapping Specialist
  10. Technical Writer


  1. Captain (FM4 certification required)
  2. Farming and Feeding Manager
  3. Facility Technician
  4. Assistant Manager
  5. Cage Site Technician
  6. Site Manager (with water quality expertise)
  7. Area Manager

The NLPNP has three categories for skilled workers and international graduates:

  • Express Entry Skilled Worker;
  • Skilled Worker, and;
  • International Graduate. 

The provincial immigration program has seven categories overall to allow newcomers to seek permanent residency in Newfoundland and Labrador through periodic draws. They are:

  1. Express Entry Skilled Worker Category.
  2. Skilled Worker Category.
  3. International Graduate Category.
  4. Priority Skills NL
  5. International Graduate Entrepreneur Category.
  6. International Entrepreneur Category.
  7. Atlantic Immigration Pilot

The Express Entry Skilled Worker category is for applicants who:

  • have a profile in the federal Express Entry Pool;
  • have a high-skilled job offer from an eligible Newfoundland & Labrador employer for at least two years with the possibility of extension, and;
  • whose salary and benefits package meet provincial standards and prevailing wage rates.

The Skilled Worker Category is for those who have a job offer from an employer in the province – or are already working there on a valid Work Permit.

International Students With PGWP and Job Offer Can Apply For Permanent Residency

International students who have a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) with at least four months remaining on it and an offer for a job in the province can apply for permanent residence under the International Graduate category.

The Priority Skills NL category is aimed at candidates with work experience in occupations in demand in the province and who have a high educational level and solid language skills. Candidates must complete an Expression of Interest and those with the highest scores and greatest interest from employers are invited to apply.

The International Graduate Entrepreneur category is aimed at graduates of Memorial University or the College of the North Atlantic who have already started or bought a local business. Under this category, applicants must provide a business plan with verified supporting financial documents.

Experienced business owners or senior business managers who wish to permanently reside in Newfoundland and Labrador can apply for permanent residence under the International Entrepreneur Category.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Offers Three Programs For Economic Immigration

And then, there’s the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, an employer-driven group of three programs:

  • the Atlantic High-Skilled Program;
  • the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program, and;
  • the Atlantic International Graduate Program.

The Atlantic High-Skilled Program is aimed at skilled workers with management, professional or technical/skilled job experience with job offers of at least one year. 

Those with offers for permanent jobs requiring a high school education and/or job-specific training can apply under the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program.

The Atlantic International Graduate Program is aimed at candidates who have a degree, diploma or other credential from a publicly-funded institution in an Atlantic province and an offer for a job that will last at least one year but no work experience.

Each job offer made through the AIP requires provincial endorsement. The application for endorsement is handled by the employer after the candidate has their Settlement Plan.

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