OTTAWA — Manitoba still gets the lion's share of provincial nominee immigrants, but arrivals in the province earn significantly less and are more likely to move away than nominees in the other western provinces, a new report shows.
An analysis of the provincial nominee programs in nine provinces and two territories was released Thursday by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Although immigration falls under federal jurisdiction, Ottawa has signed agreements to let provinces and territories establish criteria for, and seek out, immigrants to fill a province's specific economic needs. Manitoba was the first to sign such an agreement in 1996 and has been the most successful at using the program.
Between 2005 and 2009, Manitoba received 13,089 immigrants through the provincial nominee program, nearly 40 per cent of the 33,722 nominee immigrants who landed in Canada in those years. Alberta, with 14 per cent, was a distant second.
The report also found more than nine in 10 nominees in Western Canada were working within a year of arriving and had established themselves economically, but to widely varying degrees.
In Manitoba, where the provincial government has touted the nominee program as one of the saviours of the provincial economy, nominees are far more likely to be poor and working below their skill level than in other western provinces.
Provincial nominees in Manitoba earned, on average, $33,600 three years after arriving, while nominees in Alberta earned nearly triple that, an average of $93,300. B.C. nominees' earnings averaged more than double ($80,300) the Manitoba figure and Saskatchewan nominees earned 1.7 times ($58,000) what Manitoba nominees earned. New Brunswick, the only other province where income information after three years could be established, showed average earnings of $50,300.
Jean-Marc Prevost, a spokesman for Manitoba Immigration Minister Christine Melnick, said Thursday the wages for Manitoba's immigrants are not far off the wages for all Manitobans. Prevost also said Manitoba immigrants have very good employment and unemployment rates. In December, the 2011 Labour Force Survey produced by Statistics Canada found Manitoba immigrants had the highest employment rate in the country, at 83.5 per cent, and one of the lowest unemployment rates, at 4.9 per cent.
The lower earnings in Manitoba might partly be due to the fact that while more than 85 per cent of nominees in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan were working in jobs at or above their skill level, as were close to 75 per cent in New Brunswick, in Manitoba that figure was closer to 65 per cent.
That might also explain the retention differences. Between 2000 and 2008, 82.6 per cent of Manitoba nominees remained in the province. That compared to 86 per cent in Saskatchewan, 95.6 per cent in Alberta and 96.4 per cent in British Columbia. The Atlantic provinces, with a retention rate of 56.4 per cent, have the toughest time hanging on to nominees.
Nominees who leave are most likely to move to Alberta, B.C. and Ontario. The provincial nominee program was introduced, in part, to help smaller provinces attract immigrants, and it has done so. But with nearly 3,500 nominees from other provinces ultimately ending up in B.C., Alberta and Ontario, it is hurting the desire to spread the wealth of immigration.
The interprovincial migration of nominees was also flagged in the report as troublesome because nominees that fill market needs in one province don't necessarily fill those needs in another.
Immigration in Canada: By the numbers
Number of provincial nominees, by province, 2005-2009 (percentage of total immigrants to each province):
Manitoba 13,089 (91.1 per cent)
British Columbia 6,085 (13.5 per cent)
Alberta 4,698 (22 per cent)
Saskatchewan 4,155 (79.9 per cent)
New Brunswick 1,545 (74 per cent)
Prince Edward Island 1,348 (94.7 per cent)
Nova Scotia 1,255 (42.5 per cent)
Ontario 1,247 (1.2 per cent)
Newfoundland 222 (38.5 per cent)
Yukon 78 (56.5 per cent)
Average income of provincial nominees three years after arriving (by province*)
New Brunswick $50,300
British Columbia $80,300
*information for three years not available for all programs due to the size and length of time programs were available.
Percentage of nominees still in original province, 2000-2008
Newfoundland2.9 per cent
Prince Edward Island 36.6 per cent
New Brunswick 68.1 per cent
Nova Scotia 68.4 per cent
Manitoba 82.6 per cent
Saskatchewan86 per cent
Alberta 95.3 per cent
British Columbia 96.4 per cent