Canada immigration news: Prince Edward Island is fighting back against the perception that immigrants do not stay in the Atlantic Canadian province.
A Statistics Canada report indicates Prince Edward Island had the lowest level of immigrant retention in the country in 2019.
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That means that of all the provinces with immigrants who arrived in 2014, Prince Edward Island had managed to retain the smallest percentage of them five years later, with only 28.1 per cent of them choosing to remain in the province.
Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta Boast Top Immigrant Retention
The provinces who are tops in retaining immigrants are Ontario, with a 93.7 per cent five-year retention rate, British Columbia at 89.7 per cent, and Alberta at 89 per cent.
A month after that Statistics Canada data was released, though, Island immigration officials are claiming it paints an inaccurate picture of immigration to Prince Edward Island.
“When you’re looking at that five-year retention rate you are looking at programs that, in some cases, don’t even exist anymore,” Jeff Young, director at the province’s Office of Immigration, reportedly told the CBC.
The immigration official notes that Prince Edward Island has made many changes to its immigration programs over the years and the economic programs now in place have a much-higher retention rate.
“We’re focusing on helping employers fill labour gaps, labour shortages. Our programs are helping employers meet those labour shortages,” he reportedly said.
Certainly, there have been changes to immigration programs in Atlantic Canada in the eight years since 2014.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), a program that attracted more than 10,000 new permanent residents to the four Atlantic Canadian provinces in only a few years, was only introduced in 2017 and was made permanent starting this year.
Among other things, the AIP boasts a much-higher retention rate. More than 90 per cent of the applicants who immigrated through it were still living in the Atlantic Canadian region a year later.
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Boosts Immigration To Prince Edward Island
“Over the past few years, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot has made an incredible difference in communities across our region,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
“It has brought us the resource we need most: more people. They’re skilled, they’re young and they’re staying. Now, we’re doubling down on what works by making it permanent, so we can continue attracting the best and brightest to our region and build a vibrant, prosperous future for Atlantic Canada.”
Prince Edward Island has been steadily increasing the share of immigrants who come to its shores through economic immigration programs which also have a higher retention rate.
In 2019, the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic, 91.2 per cent of new permanent residents to Prince Edward Island arrived under economic programs and that share only grew more pronounced in 2021 with these programs accounting for almost 93 per cent of new permanent residents to the province in the first nine months of the year.
By ensuring newcomers to Prince Edward Island come with jobs in hand, Young says the province is gradually seeing its retention rate improve.
“If you look at our one- and two-year retention rates, I believe they are up about 70 per cent by now,” he reportedly said.
Provincial Nomination Adds 600 Points To Express Entry CRS Score
Through its Provincial Nominee Program, Prince Edward Island provides many opportunities for foreign nationals to immigrate to the province.
Under its Express Entry category of immigration programs, the province considers candidates already in the federal Express Entry Pool for provincial nomination.
Applicants for immigration under Prince Edward Island’s Express Entry system need, though, to meet the requirements of one of the federal economic immigration programs:
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data for the first 11 months of 2021, the most recent data available, show that immigration to Prince Edward Island is on the upswing.
After rising from 1,190 new permanent residents in 2015 to hit a high of 2,445 newcomers in 2019, the rate of immigration took a beating in the first year of the pandemic, falling by 47.2 per cent to 1,290 in 2020.
Since then, though, immigration to Prince Edward Island has rebounded. In the first 11 months of last year, the province welcomed 2,345 new permanent residents, putting it on track to have received 2,558 new permanent residents by the end of last year.
Prince Edward Island Immigration Expected To Hit New High
That would be 4.6 per cent more new permanent residents to Prince Edward Island in 2021 than came in 2019.
In the years since the period covered by the Statistics Canada report, the province has also beefed up its settlement services.
This year, immigrants settling on Prince Edward Island got two new courses to learn French, one of Canada’s two official languages, for free.
Under a partnership with the French-language, New Brunswick-based Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick’s (CCNB) Language Learning Centre, the Coopérative d’Iintégration Francophone of Prince Edward Island (CIF) is providing the free language courses for immigrants on the island province.