The Atlantic Canadian province of Prince Edward Island is fighting back against the stereotype that immigrants do not remain.
According to a Statistics Canada report, Prince Edward Island had the lowest rate of immigrant retention in the country in 2019. This indicates that, of all the provinces having immigrants who came in 2014, Prince Edward Island has retained the least percentage of them five years later, with only 28.1% deciding to stay.
Ontario leads the way in retaining immigrants, with a 93.7 per cent five-year retention rate, followed by British Columbia at 89.7 per cent and Alberta at 89%. However, a month since Statistics Canada released the figures, Island immigration officials argue it reflects a misleading 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 said.
According to the immigration official, Prince Edward Island has made many adjustments to its immigration programs throughout the years, and the economic initiatives that are now in place have a significantly better 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.
Throughout the eight years since 2014, there have undoubtedly been modifications to Atlantic Canada’s immigration programs. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), a program that has brought over 10,000 new permanent residents to the four Atlantic Canadian provinces in just a few years, was just launched in 2017 and will be made permanent this year.
The AIP, for example, has a substantially better retention rate. Over 90% of those who applied through it were still residing in the Atlantic Canadian region a year later.
“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.”
Officials claim that by guaranteeing that newcomers to Prince Edward Island arrive with work at hand, the province’s retention rate is progressively improving. Prince Edward Island offers numerous options for foreign nationals to come to the province through its Provincial Nominee Program.
The province considers candidates already in the federal Express Entry Pool for provincial nomination under its Express Entry category of immigration programs. A nomination of this type adds 600 points to a candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, thereby ensuring an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian immigration.
Applicants for immigration under the Express Entry system in Prince Edward Island must, however, meet the requirements of one of the federal economic immigration programs:
- Federal Skilled Worker;
- Federal Skilled Trades;
- Canadian Experience Class.
Prince Edward Island has progressively increased the number of immigrants who arrive on its shores via economic immigration programs, which have a higher retention rate. The last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic, 91.2 per cent of new permanent residents to Prince Edward Island turned up through economic programs, and that percentage only increased in 2021, responsible for nearly 93 per cent of new permanent residents to the province during the first nine months of the year.
The most recent figures available from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the first 11 months of 2021 reveal that immigration to Prince Edward Island is on the rise.
After climbing from 1,190 new permanent residents in 2015 to a high of 2,445 arrivals in 2019, the pace of immigration fell by 47.2 per cent in the first year of the pandemic, to 1,290 in 2020. However, immigration to Prince Edward Island has increased since then.
The province welcomed 2,345 new permanent residents in the first 11 months of last year, placing it on track to receive 2,558 new permanent residents by the end of 2020. In 2021, there were 4.6% more new permanent residents on Prince Edward Island than in 2019.
The province has also improved its supportive services in terms of settlement in the years following the period covered by the Statistics Canada report.
Immigrants to Prince Edward Island were given two additional free classes this year to study French, one of Canada’s two official languages.
The Coopérative d’Iintégration Francophone of Prince Edward Island (CIF) is providing free language lessons for immigrants on the island province through a relationship with the French-language, New Brunswick-based Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) Language Learning Centre.