Ontario has now joined every other provincial government in offering a provincial immigration program, designed to fast-track the issuance of Canadian Permanent Resident Visas for foreign workers with skills in demand.
The Ontario government has recently introduced the Ontario Pilot Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), designed to help Ontario employers attract and retain the skilled immigrants needed for the provincial labour market. The program is designed for highly skilled workers and specialized professionals in the manufacturing, education, health care, and construction industries. The program also focuses on retaining international students, graduating from Ontario universities and colleges. Approximately half of all nominations will be reserved for businesses outside the Greater Toronto Area to encourage economic development in regional economies.
Every year since 1987, Ontario has been the province of choice for more than half of all Canadian newcomers, making immigration a key component of Ontario society. Being launched as a pilot program, the new PNP aims to be responsive to the dynamic immigration landscape and changing labour market needs of the province. At this time, the Ontario Pilot Provincial Nominee Program is divided between the Employer Category and the Multinational Investor Category.
The Employer Category
Being employer-driven, the Ontario employer must apply for eligibility under the PNP and then nominate the potential employees as candidates for Provincial Nomination. Individuals cannot apply for the PNP without a valid job offer from an eligible Ontario employer. To be considered an eligible employer, Ontario companies must meet minimum requirements for gross revenue, number of employees in Ontario, and age of the enterprise. Once granted approval by the provincial government, the Ontario employer can offer permanent, full-time positions in the eligible occupations on the Pilot PNP’s Occupations List. The list reflects the three streams of the Employer Category:
- The Professional Stream comprises 10 occupations in the health care and education systems.
- The Skilled Worker Stream consists of 10 occupations in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
- The International Graduate Stream targets those recent graduates who are qualified to work in the above-mentioned 20 occupations.
The Multinational Investor Category
This category is designed to help those companies who are making major investments in Ontario to bring key foreign workers into their Ontario enterprise. Again, the employer must be pre-screened by the provincial government to ensure that the company meets the minimum requirements for number of employees and amount of monetary investment in Ontario.
The Ontario Pilot PNP is an element of the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA), which has set aside $920 million over the next five years for language and settlement services in Ontario. Aware of the importance of immigrant retention, the Ontario government has established mechanisms for better integration into Ontario society and into the Canadian labour force.