Visa Crunch

Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton Have The Highest Immigrant Retention Rates In Canada

According to Statistics Canada data, Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton have the highest immigrant retention rates in the country. The organization examined immigrants who arrived in Canada in 2014 and filed taxes in 2019.

After five years of their landing in Canada, 86.1 percent of immigrants who first moved in Canada remained in Vancouver, which had the highest retention rate of any metropolitan region, followed by Toronto (85.5%) and Edmonton (84.6%). According to StatsCan, urban centers have at least 100,000 residents, with at least 50,000 of them residing in the center.

In addition, Vancouver had the best rate of retention for family-sponsored immigrants and refugees, while Edmonton had the highest percentage for economic immigrants. According to the data, the vast majority of tax-filing immigrants remain in the province where they were registered. Over 85% of immigrants who arrived in Canada in 2014 stayed in the same province or territory where they were admitted five years later. Territorially, Ontario had the best retention rate (93.7%), followed by British Columbia (89.7%) and Alberta (89%). Atlantic Canada provinces had the lowest rates. Just 28.1% of immigrants remained in Prince Edward Island.

The cities with the highest overall retention had high rates in all three immigrant groups, but the rates in some other cities were less even. Montreal had a high rate of retention for family-sponsored immigrants and refugees, but a significantly reduced rate for economic immigrants, and while Winnipeg maintained 82% of family-sponsored immigrants, its rate of persistence for asylum seekers was under 40%.

According to Marshia Akbar, a researcher at Ryerson University in Toronto, social, economic, and cultural aspects all influence migrants’ mobility decisions, but job and work experience are the most crucial. According to the data, immigrants accepted in 2014 with work permits were more likely to remain in their province or territory than those with study permits.

“They work there, they create a sense of belonging and because they already have work experience, it helps them to get another job so they don’t necessarily feel the push to go to another province,” said Akbar, a senior research associate at Ryerson’s Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration.

An immigration lawyer at McCuaig Desrochers in Edmonton, Nathan Po, said he was not shocked to see retention rates in Edmonton and Calgary over 80%. The rate in Calgary was 82.9 percent.

“A vast majority of my clients are looking to build a home here, and for the most part, they’re still here,” he said. He also mentioned that Alberta has a higher ratio of foreign workers than other jurisdictions, which may be impacting retention rates.

Data from the Longitudinal Immigration Database was used by Statistics Canada, which does not explain why people stay in their current location. However, Akbar and her colleagues are investigating that subject, looking into why some migrants have stayed in smaller cities and towns in Ontario and Saskatchewan for more than ten years. According to Akbar, this type of data can help inform successful immigrant retention initiatives.

One such immigrant,  Allard, who arrived in Canada from the Philippines more than 50 years ago, said some of the people she assists have departed, only to come to Edmonton after a few months because they were more welcomed there. Whereas most newcomers continue to stay in Edmonton, she says the main reason for departing is that their international credentials are not accepted in Alberta.

“That’s the only barrier that we have noticed from the clients that come here,” she said.

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