Immigrant Services in the Prairie Provinces

The provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are very eager to entice newcomers to Canada. Each have told the federal government that they need more skilled workers, and they are looking to recent immigrants to meet their needs. With lower taxation rates and more affordable land and housing, these provinces offer a lower cost of living than some of the more populated provinces.

All three provinces offer Provincial Nominee Programs that allow newcomers working in Canada on temporary permits to transition to landed immigrant/ permanent resident status more quickly. Alberta in particular relies on bringing in skilled newcomers from around the world.

Of course, one of the drawbacks of living in a smaller community or province is that support and settlement services are not as widely available as they are in larger centres like Toronto and Vancouver. There are still plenty of programs to support immigrants to the Prairie provinces, though, and demand remains high.

Moving to Manitoba

In the last few years, Manitoba has done a lot to attract newcomers. The province has set funding aside to support settlement programs for newcomers and refugees, including community-based Adult Language Training and employment support programs through the Manitoba Immigrant Immigration Program. They also provide a way to fast-track your application for permanent residency status though the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP).

MPNP provides four different opportunities for eligibility. You must:
1. be currently working in Manitoba under a temporary permit,
2. graduate from a public Manitoba college or university with an ongoing permanent, full-time job,
3. have family in the province and fall within a certain age range, education and work experience level and proficiency in English or French,
4. be invited to apply for landed immigrant/permanent resident status through the Strategic Initiative of the MPNP.

The Academic Credentials Assessment Service (ACAS) is the provincially mandated assessment agency in Manitoba. ACAS assesses secondary and post-secondary education (academic credentials) earned outside Canada, and compares those credentials to current educational standards in Manitoba.

Immigrate to Manitoba has initiated Bridging Programs through various colleges and universities to ensure that newcomers can transition as easily as possible to their new professions in Canada. However, these programs vary in price and can be expensive for a newly settled family. The Manitoba Credentials Recognition Program provides financial assistance in the form of loans and grants to newcomers as they proceed through the licensing process in regulated professions. If you are a skilled tradesperson looking to be licensed in Manitoba, you may challenge the certification exam (take the exam by itself) rather than pay to take a course.

Manitoba has a deal with the federal government to provide English and French language courses outside the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), and instead use their federal funding towards other settlement programs for newcomers. Instead, any Manitoba resident can take free English classes if they are a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen born outside Canada, a refugee claimant or a provincial nominees (including spouses and adult children). It is also worth remembering that even if you don’t qualify to take free English language classes, your children will receive English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction through their schools.

For more information about settling in Manitoba visit www.immigratemanitoba.com

Settling in Saskatchewan

Moving west, Saskatchewan also provides great support for newcomers to Canada. In 2009-2010, Saskatchewan invested an extra 2.69 million dollars to develop new programs and strategies for encouraging newcomers to settle there.

Saskatchewan’s Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) fast-tracks newcomers to obtain their landed immigrant/ permanent resident status based on whether an applicant's skills and experience fit the needs of the province. Saskatchewan provides a wider range of eligibility, meaning people with many different kinds of skills and connections to the province can apply.

If you are interested in assessing or upgrading your skills to improve your employment opportunities, Saskatchewan offers Adult Basic Education (ABE) services. Courses through ABE offer a wide range of different options for adult learners, including:
1. increasing education and/or certification levels;
2. gaining prerequisites for further training or employment;
3. enhancing life skills, independence and self-sufficiency; and
4. learning skills specific skills (such as technological literacy, communication skills, or portfolio development).

Saskatchewan Immigration advises newcomers to the province to locate their closest Regional Newcomer Gateway. There are Regional Newcomer Gateways in eleven cities and towns in Saskatchewan. At these Gateways, there is no fee to find out if you qualify for free language lessons, or if you can meet with a Settlement Advisor who can help you transition to life in Saskatchewan. This is also a good place to get more information or assistance with finding a job and meeting other members of community who share your background, faith, interests and language.

If you do qualify for free language lessons, Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) programs are available free of charge for those who qualify through any of the eleven Gateways or their affiliates, as well as through private colleges in Swift Current and Saskatoon.

Opting for Alberta

The province of Alberta has one of the highest numbers of incoming immigrants in Canada, after Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. One of the reasons is because they have a lot of job opportunities and a very diverse economy.

The Alberta Immigrant Nomination Program (AINP) is designed to support Alberta's economic growth by attracting work-ready immigrants to the province. It is operated by the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Employment and Immigration in conjunction with the Government of Canada’s department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Any individual nominated by the Government of Alberta, together with their spouse or partner and dependent children, can apply for a landed immigrant/permanent resident status. To find out if you’re eligible, visit www.AlbertaCanada.com

To determine whether you need to upgrade your education to achieve your career goals in Alberta, the Government of Alberta provides the International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS), which assesses international educational credentials and compares them to educational standards in Canada. Calgary and Edmonton each have offices that provide government employment services to immigrants, including counseling and workshops, with topics like “How to Find a Job in Canada” and “Workplace Culture in Canada”.

As in Saskatchewan, Alberta has free language assessment services in Calgary, Edmonton and several other cities, and includes English literacy and language assessment to determine eligibility for the federally sponsored Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, which is free for those who qualify. For more information, go to http://employment.alberta.ca/Immigration/

Recently Alberta and CBC Radio have come together to ensure newcomers can have basic, free English lessons without leaving the house! Alberta has a free radio language program through CBC Radio One, just for newcomers trying to improve their English and keep up with the news at the same time. The program airs three times a week, with one special longer episode once a month. The news is read more slowly, and listeners can go to http://www.breakthewall.alberta.ca to download lessons guides about each news reading that help them better follow along with the announcer.

Freedom and Opportunity

In Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, you can live in a city that provides the same comforts and conveniences as living in some of Canada’s larger cities, or you can choose to live in a more rural setting. Across the three provinces, newcomers can choose to work in farming, medicine, trades, law, shipping, transportation, hospitality, teaching, engineering and professional industries, to name just a few. Consider the limitless possibilities of Canada’s Prairie provinces.

Manitoba Labour and Immigration
http://www.immigratemanitoba.com
Tel: (Canada 001) 204-945-6300 (in Winnipeg)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saskatchewan Immigration Services Division
www.saskimmigrationcanada.ca
Tel: (Canada 001) 306.798.7467 (in Regina)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alberta Immigration
http://www.albertacanada.com/immigration/
Tel: (Canada 001) 780-427-6419 (in Edmonton)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This story is from the "Alberta - Land of Opportunity" InfoBlock. To read more stories on this topic, click here.