Canada

Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta did the best job of any of the provinces of hanging onto their immigrants who arrived in Canada from 2012 to 2016, a Statistics Canada report reveals.

In its Provincial Variation In The Retention Rates Of Immigrants, 2022 report, released on Feb. 14 this year, the statistical and demographic services agency says immigrants who settled in those provinces loved staying there enough to remain there for at least five years.

“Among immigrants admitted from 2012 to 2016, those who intended to reside in Ontario, British Columbia or Alberta were the most likely to stay in those provinces five years after their admission,” notes Statistics Canada.

“Specifically, among immigrants admitted in 2016, the five-year retention rate was 93.1 per cent in Ontario, 87.3 per cent in British Columbia and 84.5 per cent in Alberta.

Quebec’s five-year retention rate was 81 per cent among the 2016 admission cohort.


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The Atlantic Canadian provinces, which have historically had some of the worst immigrant retention rates in the country, saw a marked improvement in their one-year retention rate with the launch of the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), which was then a pilot project, in 2017.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, hurt the Atlantic provinces’ retention rates even as the public health and travel restrictions greatly reduced the number of new permanent residents coming to Canada in the early days of the pandemic.

“Overall, the one-year retention rate for skilled immigrants in the Atlantic provinces for the 2020 admission cohort was higher than the rate prior to the launch of the AIP,” notes Statistics Canada.

“Nova Scotia experienced the highest increase to the retention rate of skilled immigrants, up 42.4 percentage points from 21.5 per cent for the 2016 cohort to 63.9 per cent for that of 2020.”

New Brunswick saw an improvement in its one-year retention rate from 50 to 65.8 per cent for immigrants who arrived in New Brunswick in 2020 compared to those who arrived four years earlier.


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During that time frame, Newfoundland and Labrador’s one-year retention rate rose from 31.3 per cent for skilled immigrants to 50 per cent. Prince Edward Island retention rate rose from  10 to 40 per cent from 2017 to 2018.

“With the exception of Prince Edward Island, all of the Atlantic provinces experienced slight declines in retaining skilled immigrants admitted in 2020 compared with the 2019 admission cohort,” notes Statistics Canada.

Atlantic Canada’s five-year retention rates also improved for immigrants who arrived in 2016.

“In the Atlantic region, both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island experienced an uptick in the five-year retention rate for immigrants who were admitted in 2016. New Brunswick … reached its highest five-year retention rate for immigrants admitted in 2016, after being relatively stable for immigrants admitted from 2012 to 2015,” notes Statistics Canada.

Retention Rates Are Improving In Atlantic Canada, Report Shows

“Prince Edward Island, at 30.9 per cent, had the lowest retention rate in Canada for immigrants admitted in 2016, but this was 5.7 percentage points higher than the rate of the 2012 cohort at 25.2 per cent. During the same period, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador had relatively stable trends in the five-year provincial immigrant retention rate, with some fluctuations.”

Outside of Atlantic Canada, British Columbia and Ontario, most provinces and territories saw a decline in their five-year retention rates for immigrants admitted from 2012 to 2016.

“The Prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, along with the territories, experienced the largest drops in the five-year retention rate of immigrants,” notes Statistics Canada.

“In Saskatchewan, the five-year retention rate was down by 14.3 percentage points from the 2012 admission cohort of 72.2 per cent to that of 2016 at 57.9 per cent. In Manitoba, the five-year retention rate fell by 11 percentage points, from” 75.1 per cent among immigrants admitted in 2012 to 64.1 per cent for those admitted in 2016.

In Emigration of Immigrants: Results from the Longitudinal Immigration Database, Statistics Canada reported earlier this year that 82.5 per cent of immigrants to Canada remained in the country 20 years after first settling in Canada.

Those who did choose to leave Canada after immigrating here did so for a wide variety of reasons, including their job opportunities in Canada, their abilities to communicate in either French or English, their age upon arrival in the country, and what is happening back in their country of origin. Many emigrants leave Canada upon the death of a loved one in their home country.

But those who chose leave almost always left within the first few years of immigrating to Canada.

“The probability of emigrating is that immigrants are much more likely to emigrate within the first few years after admission,” noted the report.

Immigrants Who Leave Canada Typically Do So Within The First Five Years

“The annual probability of emigrating reaches the highest level from three to seven years after admission, and peaks at almost 1.4 per cent in the fourth and fifth years after admission. Thereafter, the annual probability of emigrating falls and holds steady at 0.6 to 0.7 per cent.

Through its two-tier immigration system, Canada allows foreign nationals to gain their permanent residency through the federal Express Entry system’s Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) of the 10 Canadian provinces.

Under the Express Entry system, immigrants can apply for permanent residency online and their profiles then are ranked against each other according to a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest-ranked candidates will be considered for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Those receiving an ITA must quickly submit a full application and pay processing fees, within a delay of 90 days.

Through a network of  PNPs, almost all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories can also nominate skilled worker candidates for admission to Canada when they have the specific skills required by local economies. Successful candidates who receive a provincial or territorial nomination can then apply for Canadian permanent residence through federal immigration authorities.

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