PNPs: Provincial Nominee Programs Across Canada

All provinces and territories in Canada (except Quebec and Nunavut) have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). These programs enable governments to find individuals who meet specific local labour market needs and nominate them for permanent residence.

In 2010, over 36,000 people entered Canada under the PNP. And in 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) intends to welcome up to 45,000 people under the PNP. These totals include nominees, spouses and dependents. This is seven times more people than came to Canada under the PNP in 2004.

Atlantic Canada

The Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP) was introduced in 2001. It is responsible for most international newcomer entries to the province. Going to PEI as a temporary foreign worker may put you in a position to get a job offer from an employer in Canada's smallest province – which would be the first step toward obtaining permanent residence through the PEI PNP.

The New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NB PNP) selects and nominates qualified workers and entrepreneurs from around the world, whom they feel have the best chance to become economically established in New Brunswick. Applications are reviewed by Immigration Program Officers based on "eligibility requirements and selection factors", but the NB government is quick to point out that meeting requirements does not guarantee nomination. Their website provides application forms and instructions, as well as detailed guides for business applicants, skilled workers and family members.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NL PNP) allows the province to nominate applicants by offering a quicker immigration process for qualified skilled workers, family members, international graduates and entrepreneurs who wish to settle permanently in Newfoundland and Labrador. Their provincial program officers are available to explain the program requirements and processes.

The Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) discontinued the "economic immigrant" stream several years ago, but still looks for qualified skilled workers and other immigrants who meet community needs under the following streams:
"Skilled Workers" who have a full-time job offer from a Nova Scotia employer.
"International Graduates" with a full-time job offer from a NS employer where they have been working for at least three months.
"Community Identified" individuals with good employment prospects, a strong connection to a particular Nova Scotia community and a Letter of Identification from a mandated immigration organization.
"Family Business Workers" with a full-time job offer from a NS business owned by a close relative.
"Non-Dependent Adult Children" of NS nominees who wish to enter the labour market.
"Agri-Food" sector immigrants who plan to establish a business in Nova Scotia.

In the fall of 2010, the Council of Atlantic Premiers expressed concern that current federal immigration policies do not serve the present and future needs of the Atlantic provinces and they called on the federal government to remove the caps on PNP nomination certificates.

Nova Scotia wants to double immigration, and hopes to issue 1,500 certificates per year by 2020.

A 2011 controversy involving mismanagement of the "immigrant investor" streams in a number of Atlantic provinces has spurred a federal government investigation of how the PNPs are used to stimulate economic immigration to Canada. A major study is underway, with results expected in "early 2012" that will likely affect the way that investor and entrepreneur streams of the PNP operate – if they are permitted to continue at all.

As localized and market-responsive as the programs can be, they also present administrative challenges. In the cases under investigation, funds have not been well-tracked, the quality of the investments is not adequately regulated and there are loopholes that allow some of the immigrant investors to be taken advantage of.

The Prairie Provinces

Hoping to entice immigrant investment to Manitoba, the auditor general's department in that province is conducting an investigation of its own, in order to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls encountered by the programs in the Maritimes.

According to Manitoba Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade Minister Peter Bjornson, that province's PNP is already the most successful in Canada. According to a recent story in the Globe and Mail, Bjornson says there is a list of people waiting to invest in Manitoba.

The Province of Manitoba disputed the original cap of 4,600 nominees. They successfully argued that the Manitoba PNP is critical to long term prosperity and population growth in Manitoba.

This resulted in over 15,000 nominees and their families moving to Manitoba in 2010. This accounted for 77 per cent of total immigrants to Manitoba. And Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Candice Hoeppner recently announced that the Canadian Government  would continue to grant Manitoba a record amount of space in 2012.

The Province of Saskatchewan has tirelessly petitioned the federal government for an increase in their Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program quota. And with the popularity of cities like Saskatoon, the number of immigrants wanting to go to Saskatchewan may soon exceed the number of spaces - if it hasn't already.

Having increased in every quarter since April, 2006 - accounting for more than more than 70,000 people since that time – Saskatchewan's population recently passed the one million mark. Provincial NDP immigration critic Cam Broten, credited the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program, as being responsible for much of that increase.

Alberta's Minister of State for Democratic Reform, Tim Uppal, recently announced on behalf of Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, that Alberta will also receive a record amount of space in Canada's Provincial Nominee Program in 2012.

Alberta's PNP has increased almost 20-fold since 2004 – when 400 people were admitted – to over 7,000 in 2010. 23 per cent of immigrants to Alberta in 2010 came through the Alberta PNP.

BC and Ontario - the Immigration Magnets

British Columbia accounted for 17 percent of PNP nominations across the nation, and accounted for just over 10 per cent of immigration to the province in 2010. The remaining 90 per cent comes to the province through the Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience and other national programs. The BC PNP numbers have increase from 400 in 2004 to over 4,900 in 2010.

The Ontario PNP allows for the nomination of up to 1000 permanent residents each year. If this number seems low, it is because the Province of Ontario receives by far the largest share of immigrants through the federal government's other immigration streams. As a result, the Ontario PNP has focused on helping people who are in the process of earning an advanced degree in Ontario to obtain permanent resident status which enables them to live and work in the province indefinitely. Foreign workers and business investors may also be eligible.

Canada's Northern Territories

The Yukon Nominee Program allows the Government of the Yukon to nominate immigrants based on an assessment of likelihood that they can successfully establish themselves in Yukon society and make a significant contribution to furthering the territory's economic and labour market priorities.

A similar program exists in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The NWT Nominee Program is administered by The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment and has four streams, including:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Critical Impact Worker (Service & Hospitality Sector Occupations)
  • Entrepreneur Business
  • Self-Employed Business

The Government of Canada should be encouraged by the enormous successes of the program to date – but will probably move more cautiously than the provinces would like, given the difficulties with the investor streams in some provinces. Hopefully, it will simply accept the problems as lessons learned – and use those lessons to improve, increase and streamline this excellent program for matching the needs of communities across Canada with the needs of immigrants who are investing their future in our True North Strong and Free.