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How to choose the right province for your Canadian Permanent Residence?

Canada’s diversity and opportunity are well known throughout the world, and while the journey to Permanent Residence can seem a bit overwhelming, it is one worth taking. But it’s important to note that some routes are more straightforward than others. So let’s take a closer look at the provinces, and their immigration programs, that make it easier for newcomers to access Permanent Residence.

Understanding Canadian Permanent Residence

Canadian Permanent Residence (PR) offers people from around the globe the opportunity to live, work, and study anywhere in Canada, with access to recognized healthcare and education. Achieving PR status is an important milestone, as a pathway to full participation in Canadian society and a stepping stone toward citizenship.

There are several routes to obtain your PR. As Canada’s immigration system is designed to attract skilled workers and fill labour gaps, the Express Entry system is a primary pathway for skilled workers. It evaluates candidates based on skills, work experience, language ability, and education.

Read more: Our guide on all there is to know about Express Entry.

Parallel to the federal Express Entry system, provinces play a significant role through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Quebec Immigration Program, allowing provinces to nominate candidates for PR based on specific regional labour needs. 

Make sure you review our beginner’s guide to PNPs to understand what they can offer.

What are the easiest provinces to get PR in Canada

How can we classify a province as being among the easiest to get Permanent Residency in Canada? The criteria may vary.

First, it depends on your profile as a candidate, such as your work sector, or your personal preferences, which we will discuss later in the article.

Second, it is based on more objective criteria, like the quota available to a province in any given year and how many PR nominations a province issues.

For this list, we decided to focus on the following : 

  • The regularity of provincial nominations that led to PR status per province from January 2020 to January 2024, freely available on Canada’s government’s official website,
  • The total of job openings per province from January 2020 to January 2024, aggregated by Statistics Canada,
  • The number of entry paths per province that require Canadian working experience to apply for PR, that you can find on our PNP live tracker page.

This gives us the following list of the 5 easiest Canadian provinces to get Permanent Residence. (Keep in mind that this is a list, not a ranking.) 

Ontario

As Canada’s most populous province, Ontario is a destination of choice for many immigrants. Home of the country’s capital city, Ottawa, and largest city, Toronto, its strong economy and diverse communities make it especially attractive and welcoming to international workers.

The province is the one that has welcomed the most Permanent Residents since 2020, with more than 600,000 counted across all entry programs, according to Canada’s official numbers.

Its growing economy, especially in the tech industry makes the province particularly welcoming to qualified workers. It has also registered the most job openings in the country since 2020, according to Statistics Canada, despite the major slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Notably, only 2 out of 10 entry PNP entry paths to Ontario require Canadian work experience for PNP candidacy: the Express Entry Skilled Trades stream, and the In-Demand Skills stream.

Note however that most pathways to Ontario via PNP require a Canadian job offer.

Based on the frequency and scope of draws, the following are the 3 most popular immigration streams in Ontario:

What are some pros and cons of the province of Ontario for immigrants

Pros:
  • Diverse job opportunities: Ontario’s large and diversified economy offers a wide range of job opportunities across various sectors, including technology, healthcare, and finance.
  • Multicultural environment: Ontario is known for its multicultural communities, offering a welcoming environment for immigrants and foreign workers.
  • Quality of life: Ontario offers high standards of living, quality healthcare, and education, making it an attractive destination for immigrants.
Cons:
  • High cost of living: Especially in major cities like Toronto, the cost of living can be quite high compared to other provinces.
  • Competitive job market: The job market can be highly competitive, especially for high-skilled positions and in certain industries, like finance.
  • Weather: Ontario experiences cold winters, which may be challenging for those not accustomed to colder climates.

Read more: Discover 5 best ways to immigrate to Ontario

British Columbia

British Columbia (BC) stands out as a prime destination for immigrants, being the second Canadian province welcoming new Permanent Residents, with over 200,000 permits delivered since 2020

In terms of job vacancies, it ranks fourth over the same period, but still showcases a robust job market, especially in industries like forestry, clean technology, life sciences or healthcare. This also reflects a diverse economy for the western province.

BC’s immigration streams are notably inclusive, with only one out of eleven Provincial Nominee Programs requiring Canadian work experience: the Entry Level and Semi-Skilled stream.

However, similar to Ontario, almost every BC PNP program requires a Canadian job offer.

The 3 most popular entry streams, still based on the frequency of draws are:

  • Skills Immigration and Express Entry Skilled Worker: We have historically witnessed regular draws for these streams and targeting a wide coverage of occupations. They address skilled workers, healthcare professionals, and graduates. 
  • Tech Pilot: Specifically tailored for the tech sector, the program features frequent draws, targeting 35 tech occupations. BC’s booming tech industry unquestionably increases the popularity of this stream and the pilot’s role in addressing the province’s labor market needs​.

What are some pros and cons of the province of British Columbia for immigrants?

Pros:
  • Economic opportunities: With a strong job market, BC offers diverse opportunities, especially in tech and healthcare sectors.
  • Inclusive immigration streams: With most streams not requiring Canadian work experience, BC is accessible to a wide range of professionals.
  • Natural beauty and quality of life: BC’s stunning landscapes and high quality of life are attractive to many.
Cons:

Read more: How to immigrate to Canada through the BC PNP

Alberta

Alberta is also an important player in Canada’s immigration landscape, having welcomed 170,000 Permanent Residents between 2020 and 2024. With over 1 million job vacancies since 2020 also, the province’s economy thrives on energy (especially oil and gas), alongside tourism, forestry, and manufacturing

Out of nine PNP streams, only the Alberta Opportunity stream (currently paused) and Alberta Graduate Entrepreneur stream require Canadian work experience, showcasing Alberta’s accessibility to a broad range of professionals. 

Some other popular entry streams according to the province of Alberta include:

What are some pros and cons of the province of Alberta for immigrants?

Pros:
  • More affordable housing: Compared to other Canadian provinces like Ontario or BC, Alberta tries to keep housing prices competitive, thanks to its government efforts.
  • Lower taxes: Alberta benefits from having no provincial sales tax, which can lead to lower overall living expenses.
  • Natural beauty: With access to the Rocky Mountains, numerous parks, and natural reserves, Alberta is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
Cons:
  • Economic fluctuations: Dependence on oil and gas can lead to economic volatility affecting job security.
  • Climate: Harsh winters might be challenging for those unaccustomed to cold weather.

Picture of Banff, AB

Quebec

You may be well aware of Quebec’s uniqueness of being the only French-speaking province. This particularity offers both opportunities and challenges for immigrants.

For the francophones and the ones looking to improve their French, success in the immigration process and adaptability to the community is much higher.

For those who aren’t fluent, the language proficiency can become a barrier. While it’s required for applicants to have a CLB level of at least 7 in French, one doesn’t need to be perfectly fluent or bilingual to immigrate to Quebec. 

The province, primarily thanks to Montreal, is known worldwide for its efforts in software engineering, vfx, video games or overall tech, which don’t require workers to speak high levels of French.

Quebec has welcomed almost 200,000 new Permanent Residents since 2020, making it the 3rd most welcoming province for PR applicants. The province has also registered more than 2.5M job openings between 2020 and 2024. Only Ontario has had more job vacancies. 

Out of 6 entry paths for PR in Quebec, only one requires Canadian work experience, which is the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ), designed for recent graduates from Quebec schools and workers with Quebec work experience, facilitating rapid integration into the Quebec labour market.

Other popular entry streams for Quebec include:

  • Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP): Targeting skilled workers based on their professional abilities and experience, education, work experience, age, and language proficiency in French.
  • Quebec Investor Program: For candidates with significant net worth willing to invest in the Quebec economy and contribute to its economic development and job creation.

What are some pros and cons of the province of Quebec for immigrants?

Pros:
  • Bilingual environment: Offers a unique opportunity for immigrants to immerse themselves in both French and English.
  • Cultural diversity: Quebec is known for its welcoming attitude towards immigrants, encouraging a multicultural environment.
  • Employment opportunities: With booming sectors in tech like AI, gaming, and biotechnology thriving, there are various career opportunities.
Cons:
  • Language barrier: As seen above, French may pose challenges for non-French speakers.
  • Climate: Harsh winters can be difficult for those who don’t like cold weather.

Manitoba

As one of the symbols of the Canadian prairies, Manitoba’s rich natural resources drive its economy thanks to sectors like agriculture, mining and energy. The province has welcomed over 70,000 new Permanent Residents since 2020 and offered more than 300,000 job vacancies. primarily in these industries.

It’s worth noting that 3 out of its 12 entry streams for immigrants require Canadian work experience, which might pose a barrier for some newcomers (the Skilled Workers stream, Work Experience Pathway and the Manitoba International Education stream.)

Another popular entry, according to the province, is the Business Investor Stream (BIS), for qualified entrepreneurs planning to start (or buy) businesses in Manitoba.

What are some pros and cons of the province of Manitoba for immigrants?

Pros:
  • Affordable cost of living: Compared to other Canadian provinces, Manitoba offers a more affordable lifestyle, reducing financial pressures for new immigrants.
  • Rich cultural life: Manitoba has a pretty rich cultural scene, including festivals like the Winnipeg Folk Festival and Folklorama.
Cons:
  • Climate: Located in the very center of the country, Manitoba welcomes very harsh winters, which may not be for everyone.
  • Geographical isolation: The province location may limit access to certain industries and larger Canadian cities.
  • Work experience requirement: As seen above, some immigration streams require Canadian work experience, which may present limits for new immigrants.

 

Skyline of Edmonton, Manitoba

How to choose the best province for your Permanent Residence

You now understand that there are several entry doors to PR in Canada and that they may differ from one province to another considering their different needs in terms of labour gaps to fill.

But how can you make sure which of these needs you’re more fit to fill?

In other words, what criteria should you consider when looking to find the best province to aim for?

Here are some key criteria you’ll want to consider:

Which immigration stream is best for you?

Depending on your job, skills, or background, you might find some provinces have programs that are a better fit for you. For instance, if you work in tech, there is a greater chance that you find an easier pathway to immigration through the Ontario or BC PNPs. 

Which province(s) welcome the most immigrants?

Our list above gave you a strong idea, but you can also keep an eye on our regular updates on Express Entry draws or open Provincial Programs.

IRCC also publishes regular stats on where immigrants settled since 2015. These can give us a clear view of which provinces are not only popular among newcomers but are essentially more open to welcoming new residents. 

Which province offers the best job opportunities? 

Provinces with a booming economy and a high demand for skilled workers offer better prospects for immigrants to find employment that matches their skill set. 

This would not only help with your immigration process but also in your settlement and integration into Canadian society.

Community Support

A region with supportive communities, associations, social networks or even services for newcomers can highly improve your experience of settling in Canada. 

Aligning personal goals and preferences

It’s essential to consider your personal and professional goals against what each province offers. 

In addition to climate and other geographical particularities (do you prefer the mountain or the ocean?), you may find important differences from one province to another in terms of lifestyles, education, costs of living, opportunities for children, etc. 

About the author

Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of experience and a strong legal background. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.

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