Manitoba’s provincial nominee immigration program has been a rousing success thus far but still has room for improvement, a new report concludes.
The Institute for Research on Public Policy will today publicly release the findings of a study looking at the program that has brought more than 38,000 immigrants to Manitoba in the last decade. It comes a year after federal auditor general Sheila Fraser called for Ottawa to review the entire provincial nominee system, suggesting it has little accountability or evidence it is working.
In the 1990s, Ottawa introduced provincial nominee programs to help smaller provinces glean a larger share of immigrants by allowing the provincial governments to specifically target certain immigration classes to meet their own unique economic needs.
Manitoba has by far been the most successful user of the nominee system, with almost half of the total nominees coming to Canada between 1999 and 2008 landing in Manitoba. Nominees also account for more than half of all immigrants to Manitoba, and since the program’s inception, the immigration rate in Manitoba soared from 3.3 immigrants per 1,000 people in 1999 to 9.3 in 2008.
The report is part of a three-part study underway by University of Winnipeg professors Tom Carter, Manish Pandey and James Townsend which is looking at provincial nominee programs.
It found immigrants who arrived in Manitoba under the provincial nominee program were more likely to stay in the province long term, earned more money upon first arriving and were more likely to settle somewhere outside Winnipeg. All three are noted goals of provincial immigration.
Pandey said the data, mostly gleaned from the federal Longitudinal Immigration Database, doesn’t fully explain why nominee immigrants make more money at first than federal immigrants with similar education levels. But he said he and the other two authors expect it may be because nominee immigrants must have a job offer before they arrive in Manitoba which means they would start working almost right away.
"It gives them an advantage," he said.
The data showed over time, nominee’s earnings did not grow as fast as those of economic class immigrants, likely because the latter started to find jobs.
That nominees are more likely to stay in Manitoba may be in part because lower-skilled workers are not as mobile but does suggest Manitoba is correctly targeting people who are likely to stay in the province. Pandey said the Atlantic provinces are not having similar retention rates for its nominee program, suggesting Manitoba is doing something other provinces should learn from.
Between 1999 and 2003, 37.3 per cent of Manitoba provincial nominee immigrants had a university degree compared to 74.3 per cent of federal economic class immigrants. Between 2004 and 2006, those numbers climbed to 48.6 per cent of nominees with a university degree compared to 85 per cent of federal economic class immigrants.