Foreign workers around the world want to move to Canada more than any other country, according to a new survey of 208,807 workforce respondents in 190 countries.
The 2021 “Decoding Global Talent” report, compiled by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The Network, and Appcast, reveals that Canada has superseded its neighbour, the United States, as the most desired place to live and work among international workers.
‘The most striking shift in our survey is the fall of the US from the top spot. Hurt by an inconsistent pandemic response, the adoption of more nationalistic policies, and social unrest, the US has fallen to second in the rankings, behind Canada and basically in a tie with Australia,’ reads the report.
Canada now the top destination for workers
The report commends Canada and Australia for their pandemic management, social systems, and open cultures, with both countries among the most diverse in the world. The report quotes 48-year-old health insurance manager Sudha Lakshmi from India, who thinks that Canada and Australia “take good care of their people.” She said she would be open to relocating to either country.
The ‘Canada or Australia’ conundrum has been around for years, especially among those with competitive credentials to immigrate to either country. However, the pandemic has thrown up some interesting comparisons with respect to how newcomers fared in these two countries; while Australia notably denied nearly all non-permanent migrants from special relief measures and income support in the immediate onset of the pandemic last year, a contributing factor to more than 500,000 temporary migrants leaving the country, Canada helped its cohort of temporary migrants to bridge the gap if they lost jobs or work hours. Moreover, while Australia decreased its annual immigration targets to just 160,000 — in effect, the pandemic has resulted in just a fraction of that figure actually settling — Canada has boosted its annual immigration target north of 400,000 annually in an effort to grow the economy and counter demographic challenges such as population aging. The Government of Canada has sprung out of the gates to achieve that target by inviting tens of thousands of current and recent temporary workers in Canada, plus their family members, to settle permanently. And, just a few days ago the government announced new efforts to speed up processing for Family Class sponsorship applicants.
And what about the former gold medal winner, the US, which now must make do with bronze position on the podium of most desired migration destinations? The report outlines that over recent years the US has been ‘hurt by an inconsistent pandemic response, the adoption of more nationalistic policies, and social unrest.’ It remains to be seen whether the US can regain some of its lost allure now that a new administration occupies the White House.
Other countries to suffer notable drops in reputation include Spain, France, and Italy, all of which have suffered massively from the coronavirus over the past year.
Meanwhile, Singapore and New Zealand sneak into the top 10 most desired destinations. The report outlines that many Asia-Pacific countries have done a better job of containing the virus, and this has helped them move up in the rankings. New Zealand in particular ‘has been a model of effective coronavirus management almost since the pandemic began and has other appealing characteristics.’
As Canada competes for international talent, the new reality of international migration means its main competitors may not be next door or directly across the Atlantic, but rather in the Asia-Pacific region.
The world wants to move to Canada, but can they?
In a word, yes — Canada is open to newcomers from all over the world. Indeed, the Government has placed the future economic success of the country partly on the shoulders of immigrants. (No pressure, guys!)
Announcing the recent targets, Canada’s Minister of Immigration Marco Mendicino said, “Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table. As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves. Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”
Canada’s flagship immigration system, known as Express Entry, allows eligible candidates around the world to compete among each other for a coveted invitation to apply for permanent residence. By managing the number of invitations handed out, Canada is able to process most applications within a few months, making the system nimble for applicants, employers, and local communities alike. Successful applicants are placed on a fast-track to becoming Canadian citizens, needing just three years of residence in Canada before they may apply for citizenship.
Other newcomers arrive through specialised immigration programs focused more on regional needs; these programs include the Provincial Nominee Programs, as well as newer programs such as the Atlantic Immigration Program and the Rural and Northern Pilot.
Immigrants to Canada may also arrive as sponsored family members or as refugees.