Canadian Immigration News

Which Provinces Received the Largest Share of Newcomers in 2020?

4.25 minute read
"2020 saw a drop in Canadian immigration due to the travel restrictions and lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The reports show that the Canadian immigration levels dropped to the lowest level since 1998. "
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  May 23, 2021
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2020 saw a drop in Canadian immigration due to the travel restrictions and lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The reports show that the Canadian immigration levels dropped to the lowest level since 1998. 

Canada fell well short of its immigration target to welcome 341,000 new immigrants and only managed to accept 184,000 immigrants in 2020. While the immigration levels were normal till mid-March, travel restrictions and other Covid-19 disruptions caused them to fall in late 2020. 

This decline affected all Canadian provinces and territories. However, the settlement patterns were largely unaffected by the pandemic. The share of immigrants might have declined but the pattern of settlement remained the same. 

Where Did Immigrants Settle in Canada in 2020?

Ontario: Immigration to Ontario declined by half in 2020 with only 83,000 new immigrants settling down in Ontario. However, Ontario still managed to attract 45% of all the new immigrants coming to Canada. 

British Columbia: British Columbia still managed to be the 2nd leading province to welcome newcomers. However, the number of new immigrants fell drastically in 2020 with only 30,000 people or 15% of the total new immigrants coming to Canada. 

Quebec: Quebec came 3rd as it welcomed over 25,000 new immigrants. This increased Quebec’s share to 14% compared to only 12% last year. So, 2020 improved Quebec’s immigration levels. This was because Quebec accepted more family and refugee class immigrants in 2020. Since close family members of Canadian citizens were exempt from the travel restrictions, its immigration levels were largely unaffected during the pandemic. 

Alberta: Alberta’s share of immigrants fell to 12.4% compared to 13% in 2019. 

Manitoba: Manitoba’s share of immigrants fell from 5.5% in 2019 to 4.7% in 2020.

Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan’s immigration level declined from 4.6% in 2019 to 4% in 2020. 

Atlantic Provinces: The 4 Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador experienced a decline in their immigration levels from 5.2% in 2019 to 4.7% in 2020.

Which Provinces Will Recover in 2021?

Immigration levels in 2021 are estimated to be 10% higher than at the same time last year. It is also estimated that Canada is ahead of its schedule and will easily be able to achieve its immigration target of inviting 401,000 new immigrants this year. 

However, it remains in question whether the benefits of this will be enjoyed across Canada since the focus has been shifted to foreign nationals already present in the country. Express Entry is the main way for skilled workers to immigrate to Canada. An estimated 92% of Express Entry applicants prefer to settle down in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. 

62% of Express Entry applicants expressed a desire to settle down in Ontario in 2019. It is estimated that Ontario will see a significant recovery in its immigration levels in 2021. Family Class immigrants will support this recovery since they are exempt from Covid-19 travel restrictions. 

British Columbia is also estimated to have a strong recovery in 2021 owing to its large BC PNP draws that are being held almost weekly. PNPs facilitate the transition of temporary residents to permanent residency. 

Alberta can expect to experience a slight decline in its immigration levels in 2021 since it has chosen to reduce intake through the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP). There is less certainty about whether Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces will see such a rate of recovery since they rely more heavily on their PNPs to attract immigrants. 

However, these provinces can benefit from IRCC’s priority to transition maximum temporary residents to permanent residency this year by encouraging temporary workers and international students to apply. IRCC has also indicated that it will take additional measures to achieve the immigration target, beyond just encouraging Express Entry. 

Finally, Quebec must adapt its immigration system to achieve its immigration target of inviting 44,500 new immigrants in 2021. Quebec must focus on inviting more Family Class immigrants and facilitate permanent resident transitions through its Quebec Experience Class Program. The new pathway known as the “guardian angels” will facilitate the transition of asylum seekers who are working on the front lines as a part of Canada’s Covid-19 response.

What Is the Government Doing to Keep Up the Immigration Levels?

In late October 2020, Canada announced its Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023 to invite over 401,000 new immigrants every year. Canada plans to encourage the transition of temporary residents to permanent residents to achieve this target amid the ongoing pandemic. 

The government body of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada conducted the largest Express Entry draw in Canadian history by inviting 27,332 applicants to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) to apply for permanent residency on February 13, 2021. Since almost over 90% of CEC applicants are already residing in Canada, the immigration process could be started without any delay.

IRCC will invite more and more applicants from overseas as soon as the Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted. Meanwhile, applicants from overseas can prepare to apply for immigration and those with approved applications can expect to be welcomed once the travel restrictions are lifted.

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