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Canada recently released information about its PNP immigration and inter-provincial immigration. While there is plenty of interesting information in these releases, one key theme we saw was an opportunity to discuss how newcomers could use this information to narrow down where to live in Canada.

Key Takeaways for Newcomers: 

  • There tends to be a higher proportion of workers in technical occupations coming through Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs, particularly in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta. 
  • The PNP has resulted in an increasing number of newcomers settling outside of Ontario. There have been large increases in immigration to the Prairie and Atlantic provinces as a result of these programs. 
  • Within Canada, residents are flocking to live in Alberta. This trend started in 2022, and the fact that it’s still happening two years later highlights the appeal of the province. 
  • Canadian residents are moving out of Ontario and British Columbia. 


Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs: Recent Trends

Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs accounted for 40% of economic immigration to Canada in 2023, and it will continue to play an important role in economic immigration in 2024 and beyond. 

The high proportion of immigration coming through Canada’s PNP is quite different to historic levels. In 2000, the Federal Skilled Worker Program accounted for 79% of economic immigrants, meaning that almost four fifths of economic immigrants were selected by the federal government. So, there has been a dramatic shift in selection at the provincial level in the past two decades.

Where Newcomers Are Moving To Via The PNP

The adoption and expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program over the past decades has resulted in more immigrants landing in provinces other than Ontario. Figures from 2019 and 2021 show that Manitoba and Saskatchewan receive more than 80% of their economic immigrants through their respective PNPs. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Alberta receive close to 50% of their economic immigrants through the PNP. While in Ontario, the figure sits closer to 10%. 

Other than the changes in economic immigration, there are key trends in the levels of PNP nominations that are worth paying attention to: 

Newcomers with Prior Work Experience In Canada Favoured In These Provinces

Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, and British Columbia tend to nominate individuals with prior work experience (gained as a temporary foreign worker) via their PNP. In fact, the percentage of nominees with prior Canadian experience hovered around 80% in these provinces. 

Where To Go If You Don’t Have Prior Canadian Work Experience

Conversely, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick selected more nominees from a pool of applicants outside of Canada (in 2010 and 2019). Just 28% of nominees in New Brunswick had previously held temporary resident status. These figures rose to 34% in Saskatchewan and 37% in Nova Scotia. 


International Students Are Using Canada’s PNP To Stay In Canada

International students made up more than 50% of the provincial nominees in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Manitoba, and more than 40% of provincial nominees in British Columbia and Nova Scotia based on figures from 2021). 

Younger Newcomers Are Moving To These Provinces

There has been an increase in the number of younger newcomers immigrating to Canada through the PNP in recent years. Generally speaking, newcomers who arrive in Canada earlier in their life tend to have better economic outcomes than those who move later. They also tend to move to different locations: 

  • Prince Edward Island
  • Ontario
  • Manitoba
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia. 

Around 50% of the provincial nominees in these provinces were aged between 20-29 in 2019. 

Skilled and Technical Workers Landed In These Provinces

Since the PNP was introduced, newcomers have tended to land in different locations. An interesting impact of this is that some provinces are attracting and nominating higher numbers of skilled and technical workers through their PNPs. 

Skilled and technical workers are moving to: 

  • Nova Scotia
  • Saskatchewan
  • Alberta.


Manitoba Attracts Lower-Skilled Provincial Nominees

Lower-skilled provincial nominees outnumbered professionals and skilled and technical workers in Manitoba. The lower-skilled category includes those working in NOC skill level C or D occupations. 

Newcomers in Professional Occupations Preferred These Provinces

Three provinces had higher shares of provincial nominees coming through in professional and managerial positions: 

  • British Columbia
  • New Brunswick
  • Prince Edward Island.

What We Learned About Inter-Provincial Migration

Interprovincial migration is extremely high in Canada at the moment. In 2023, approximately 333,000 Canadians moved to another province or territory. This is the second highest amount of inter-provincial migration recorded since the 1990s. 

Most interprovincial migrants are moving to Alberta. Alberta’s population of interprovincial migrants has increased each year since 2022. Canadians are also moving to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island at greater rates. 

More people moved away from Ontario in 2022 and 2023 than any other province. British Columbia also saw more residents move away in 2023. In fact, BC recorded a net negative interprovincial migration rate for the first time since 2012. Most of the residents leaving BC moved to Alberta. 


What’s Driving Interprovincial Migration in Canada? 

Canada’s statistics don’t account for why people are moving, just that they are. But interprovincial immigration is usually driven by the economy, job prospects, and lifestyle preferences.

Alberta has relatively affordable housing and does not charge provincial sales tax, meaning the costs of goods and services tend to be lower too. While it doesn’t have the same outdoorsy reputation you see in British Columbia, it still has plenty to offer in terms of access to nature. The province also advertised itself as a destination for Canadians throughout 2022 with its famous Alberta is Calling campaign.

Alberta currently has a higher-than-average unemployment rate, however. So this trend may decrease in the coming months, unless the economy catches up to the level of immigration to Alberta.

Meanwhile, Atlantic Canada is attracting migrants due to the improving economic conditions and relatively low cost of living. The Atlantic provinces have typically held a reputation as being fairly sleepy and attracting an older demographic. However, things are changing and these provinces are seeing increased interest from born-Canadians, long-term residents, and newcomers alike. 

Important Note for Newcomers: Planning is Key

While you can always move later, the province in which you choose to live in Canada will impact everything from your immigration pathway to your economic outcomes. It is essential that you research and plan ahead if you want to succeed in Canada. 

To stay up-to-date with the latest news and to access our free immigration quiz and other helpful resources, sign up for a free Moving2Canada account. We are a free resource for newcomers, and we want to help you move to Canada. 

About the author

Stephanie Ford profile picture

Stephanie Ford

Finance, Law and Immigration Writer
Stephanie is a content marketer who has written for law firms (with a focus on immigration and privacy), legal tech companies, and finance professionals for more than 9 years. She earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning in Australia. Stephanie is now a permanent resident of Canada and a full-time writer at Moving2Canada.
Read more about Stephanie Ford
Citation "Choosing Where To Live In Canada: Key Stats Newcomers Should Know." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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