Immigrant Retention—Key Metric to Identify Best Provinces and Cities for Canada Immigration

What’s the best province in Canada for skilled workers? This question may seem very simple, but this is probably the most complicated aspect of immigrating to Canada. Choosing the right province can make life very easy for you and your family in Canada.

Conversely, settling in the wrong province can have a negative impact on your personal and professional life.

One good way to select the right province is to look at what other immigrants are doing. If a large number of immigrants are settling in a particular province or city, then it’s certainly worth considering why the province/city is so popular among skilled immigrants.

A recent study analyzing immigrants who entered in Canada in 2014 found that Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton have the highest immigrant retention rate in Canada. More than 80 percent of all immigrants who entered the three cities in 2014 continue to live and work here.

Obviously, selecting a city where you can work and live for the next five years would be preferable to a setup where you are forced to move after a year or two. Let us look at some conclusions that can be inferred from the immigrant retention rates of different cities and provinces.

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High Immigrant Retention = Population Growth = Economic Growth

There’s a clear and direct connection between population growth and economic growth in developed economies. Since Canada depends primarily on immigration to boost its population, immigrant retention is a must for any province or city to enjoy sustained growth in population.

This means comparing immigrant retention rates of different cities will give you a good idea of the strength of economic growth. This, in turn, will help you assess your career prospects over the long term.

Low immigrant retention may happen for a number of reasons, and it may not be a good idea to reject a city or province solely on basis of this metric. However, a good rate is a clear indication that the province is doing a good job in attracting skilled workers and retaining them.

Why Low Retention—an Important Question  

While high retention is generally a positive sign, low retention is not an automatic negative. Rather, you should focus on the reasons why a province is having low immigrant retention rate.

Is it because immigrants struggle to find well-paying jobs there? Or are there inadequate educational and childcare facilities for workers with young children? Or is there lack of good healthcare and other social amenities?

If there are not enough jobs, then you should look for very good reasons to move to the province. You may have a good job today, but lack of employment options can hurt your career growth over the long run.

Good jobs but inadequate housing or healthcare may make it problematic for your family to live in the city. This means you may end up being forced to move to a different city despite being happy with your job and career prospects.

Low Immigrant Retention—Any Remedial Steps?

Historically, most skilled workers entering Canada chose to settle in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. So, it’s likely that provinces like Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island have low retention numbers.

Instead of focusing solely on this number, research about the remedial measures taken by the provincial authorities to attract more immigrants. The Atlantic Pilot, now permanent, program has had a significant impact in improving retention rates in the Atlantic provinces.

Recently, the population of Nova Scotia topped a million, which was primarily due to improvements in the province’s ability to retain skilled immigrants. So, while low retention is a negative, you should decide only after assessing the impact of remedial measures.

Identifying the right province for you should never be a formulaic exercise. Very good retention may result in problems like expensive housing and congested cities. Cities with low retention may offer benefits like very cheap housing and better quality of living.

Combine this metric along with factors like job prospects for your occupation, facilities available for family members, and extent of new measures introduced to attract skilled workers and international students before finalizing your choice.

Of course, you will have to explore the various PNP streams in the province when comparing your options. With so many variables to consider, it would be a smart choice to work with an immigration attorney from the very beginning of your immigration journey.

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