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Recent Canadian immigrants are more likely to stay in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia or Alberta, according to a new study.

Interestingly, these provinces also tend to attract higher numbers of immigrants than other Canadian provinces.

But it’s one thing to attract immigrants to a province, and another thing to keep them there. So, it’s important to know what factors are helping immigrants integrate into their new home.

On February 14, 2024, Statistics Canada released a new study on immigration retention in Canadian provinces and territories.

The study examined the percentage of immigrant taxfilers who filed taxes in their intended destination province or territory found on their permanent residency application. Researchers looked at the one-year and five-year retention rates to shed light on short and medium-term settlement patters, using data from the 2022 Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB).

The findings highlight the variations in the retention rates of immigrants by location as well as their admission category.

Read more: What are the 5 easiest provinces to get PR in Canada?


Where are Canadian immigrants staying?

The report looked into the retention rates of immigrants who landed in Canada between the years 2012 and 2016.

Here are the provinces listed from highest five-year retention rate to lowest:

  • Ontario – 93.1%
  • British Columbia – 87.3%
  • Alberta – 84.5%
  • Quebec – 81%
  • Territories – 64.3%
  • Manitoba – 64.1%
  • Nova Scotia – 62.7%
  • Saskatchewan – 57.9%
  • New Brunswick – 56%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 46.2%
  • Prince Edward Island – 30.9%

While the five-year retention rates remained relatively consistent in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, most other provinces saw retention rates decline when comparing the 2012 and 2016 cohorts.

The largest drops were observed in the Prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) as well as the territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut).

On the flip side, the Atlantic region (Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick) has experienced an uptick in the five-year retention rate.

Family and refugee-class immigrants have high retention rates

The five-year retention rates of family-sponsored immigrants and refugees remain high, while retention rates for economic immigrants has dropped.

Here are the five-year retention rates of immigrants admitted to Canada in 2016:

  • Family class – 91.7%
  • Refugees – 86.4%
  • Economic class – 77.9%

Among immigrants admitted to Canada from 2012 to 2016, those sponsored by family consistently had the highest five-year retention rate, followed by refugees.

Retaining economic immigrants has always played an important role in relieving regional labour shortages, but on the whole economic immigrant retention has trended downward.

The retention of immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), as well as those who immigrate through the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades programs (managed by Express Entry), has dropped. Meanwhile, Candadian Experience Class (CEC) and caregivers continued to have high retention rates, even if they dropped off a little in later years.

Short-term retention a different story

Short-term retention rates of one year may contrast with the trends observed over five-years.

Here are the one-year retention rates for those admitted to Canada in 2020:

  • Territories – 100%
  • Quebec – 91.4%
  • Ontario – 81.9%
  • Prince Edward Island – 70%
  • British Columbia – 67.4%
  • New Brunswick – 65.8%
  • Nova Scotia – 63.9%
  • Alberta – 63.4%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 50%
  • Manitoba – 44.4%
  • Saskatchewan – 39.3%

The short-term retention rates of the Prairie Provinces were more stable compared to their five-year retention rates. In the Atlantic provinces, retention has trended upward since the launch of the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) in 2017.

What does all this mean?

The study of provincial and territorial retention rates provides a valuable resource for policymakers and stakeholders involved in immigration and settlement strategies.

As Canada continues to attract a diverse range of newcomers, understanding the dynamics of immigrant retention is crucial for fostering inclusive communities and sustaining economic growth.

The findings underscore the importance of targeted interventions, especially in regions experiencing declines in retention rates, and highlight successful initiatives that can serve as models for enhancing settlement outcomes nationwide.

If you’re interested in moving to Canada but not sure which program you may be eligible for, check your eligibility for more than 20 Canadian immigration programs by taking Moving2Canada’s free Canada Immigration Quiz.

Citation "Where Canadian immigrants are moving and staying." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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