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How Will Covid-19 Impact Immigration Programs of Quebec and Other Canadian Provinces?

Quebec and Ontario account for more than 85 percent of all the Covid-19 cases in Canada and unemployment rates for April 2020 for these two provinces have risen significantly. Further, the two provinces have witnessed the biggest fall in number of hours worked between February and April 2020. 

Yet, this doesn’t mean the economic impact of the pandemic will be restricted to just these two provinces. 

Quebec may have been the first to declare a lockdown in mid-March 2020 but all other provinces followed suit within the next ten days. This means the economic degrowth, loss of jobs, business shutdowns, and overall increase in public and private debt will be seen across all the provinces of Canada. 

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Impact on Immigration

When faced with an economic crisis, governments instinctively focus on cutting down immigration to save jobs for locals. However, this is unlikely to occur in a country like Canada that boasts of a transparent merit-based immigration system. 

Firstly, Canada’s immigration system gives primacy to entry of skilled workers into in-demand occupations. The Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process is designed to permit entry of short-term as well as permanent workers only after employers prove the absence of local talent to fill the vacancy. 

Further, provinces are free to move beyond the federal immigration programs and design programs depending on their unique economic and social requirements. As the pandemic subsides and provinces focus on repairing the economic damage, one may expect changes to the provincial immigration programs. 


Unlike other provinces, Quebec has greater control over its immigration policies, which is it could actually plan a cut in its 2020 immigration target in contrast to the federal government’s move to allow more immigrants into Canada.  

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Quebec’s annual immigration levels have fallen from more than 50,000 in 2018 to less than 45,000 for 2020. Going ahead, this may change with the province allowing more skilled workers and even more investors under its Immigrant Investor Program in the coming years. 

While Quebec has avoided setting up pilot programs, the pandemic may compel the government to adopt this route to attract more talent into the economy.  

Other Provinces

Ontario may have lost the most jobs, barring Quebec, but it is a far more popular immigration destination compared to its North Atlantic counterparts. While absolute job loss numbers may be lower, the economic impact on smaller and less-popular immigration destinations will be significantly higher. 

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The pandemic can impact provincial nomination programs in three ways. 

One, high unemployment may push wages down for job vacancies, which means employers may find hiring immigrants a less expensive proposition. 

Two, travel restrictions may mean streams, like International Graduate streams or in-province skilled worker streams, where those already in the province can be selected may see lower scores and higher nominations going ahead. 

Finally, provinces will target vacancies in worst-hit sectors, which means the list of in-demand occupations may change or new streams targeted specific occupations may be prioritized. 

There’s no doubt that this crisis represents a good opportunity for foreign skilled workers to make their Canadian dream come true. This is why time advice and guidance from an experienced immigration professional may be the smartest way ahead for you. 

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