Province Focus Series – Overview of British Columbia’s Economy, Education, Lifestyle, and Provincial Nomination Options for Immigrants
Along with Ontario and Quebec, British Columbia is one of the big-three Canadian provinces that attract most of the skilled workers and foreign entrepreneurs seeking to settle in Canada. British Columbia, Canada has been a consistent economic outperformer due to its robust economic infrastructure combined with its ability to attract and retain foreign talent.
Read ahead for ImmigCanada’s second post in the series of Province Focus for more information on immigration, education, economy and jobs, and society and lifestyle in British Columbia, Canada.
Economy of British Columbia Canada
British Columbia’s economy is dominated by its service sector, which accounts for 75 percent of the province’s GDP. Service-based industries are concentrated in the West Coast and other urban parts of the province.
Important sectors that contribute to the province’s GDP include aerospace, clean technology, forestry, mining, Information and Communications Technology, and life sciences. Tourism is a big sector that contributes ten percent to the provincial GDP.
So, a skilled worker specializing in a service-sector occupation like hospitality, travel and tourism, or even technology will find opportunities in cities like Victoria, Vancouver, and others. This is probably why more than 85 percent of the province’s population lives in urban areas with 60% population concentrated in and around the Vancouver region.
This does not mean BC does not have resource-based or manufacturing-centric industries. Mining, agriculture, and forestry are the dominant resource-based businesses in the province and these are based primarily in the rural areas of the province.
BC has consistently outperformed other provinces as well as the Canadian economy in terms of GDP growth and employment data. Between 2010 and 2018, British Columbia’s GDP grew at almost double the national growth rate. Population growth was more than the national average.
Going ahead, this province is expected to recover from the pandemic faster and is likely to post higher GDP growth and faster reduction in unemployment as the economic recovery strengthens.
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Studying in British Columbia
With 25 public post-secondary institutions including six research universities, BC is a very popular study destination for Canadian as well as foreign students. Top universities in the province include the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Victoria.
BC is the only province with a mechanism to help students assess the quality and credibility of education institutions. The Education Quality Assurance designation is available only to those educational institutions that meet or exceed the quality standards set by provincial authorities.
Further, the rule that only EQA-designated institutions in BC can accept foreign students makes it easier for young foreign students to identify and choose the best institution for their study plans.
Immigrating to British Columbia
Like all other Canadian provinces, BC too plans on attracting large number of foreign students and skilled workers to fill job openings in the province. BC is expected to create more than 860,000 job positions through 2029 and more than 75 percent of these positions will require the worker to have some form of post-secondary education and training.
This is probably why the province has an elaborate provincial nomination program with streams focusing on Express Entry workers, non-Express Entry skilled workers, international graduates, and foreign entrepreneurs.
The Express Entry stream has pathways for skilled workers, international graduates, international post graduates, as well as a independent pathway for healthcare professionals.
BC is unique because it’s probably the only province with an EE-stream for international graduates. So, a foreign student getting a degree from a BC institution can get nominated and secure the 600-point CRS score boost by fulfilling the one-year work experience requirement to qualify for the FSWP.
The Skills Immigration stream is similar to the EE stream with pathways for skilled workers, international graduates and post-graduates, and healthcare professionals. Further, there’s a separate pathway for entry-level and semi-skilled workers, which ensures workers unable to qualify for the Federal Skilled Trades program too have a shot at BC nomination.
Finally, there are three pathways for entrepreneurs through BCPNP. The Base Category route is for experienced entrepreneurs and business managers with a net worth of CAD$600,000 or higher to setup a business in the province.
The Strategic Projects route is for foreign businesses seeking to invest in the province and setup or takeover ventures by transferring their employees to BC.
The Regional Pilot is an innovative entrepreneur-centric pilot program with lower minimum net worth and investment requirements with the condition that the business will have to be established in one of the participating communities.
Living in British Columbia, Canada
The idea of living in Canada makes people think of extreme cold climate with lots of snow and ice. While this may be true for northern Canada, BC’s location on the west coast of the country makes it a great place to live for those who enjoy mild weather.
The coastal region around Vancouver and Victoria has the best climate with warm summers and mild winters. Vancouver is also among the top-five cities attracting maximum immigrants in Canada.
The cosmopolitan nature of the province is evident from the fact that more than ten percent of its population has a non-English first language like Chinese, Punjabi, and Korean.
The city of Vancouver has been consistently ranked first in North America among the top-five cities in the world in terms of quality of living.
On the flip side, concentration of population in urban centers means cost of living can be high, especially in terms of affordable housing in cities like Vancouver.
So, while BC should rank high as a destination for a foreign worker or student seeking a future in Canada, a smart and strategic approach would be to avoid overcrowded cities and explore education or work opportunities in the interiors.
Also, with a very high concentration of small and medium businesses, entrepreneurship too is an option that should be serious considered when applying through the BCPNP.