Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs: A look back at top stories from 2021

Alexandra Miekus
Published: January 6, 2022

Throughout 2021, Canada's Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) have worked to address the changing labour needs resulting from the pandemic by introducing new immigration streams and targeting candidates in specific economic sectors.

The PNP is an immigration program jointly administered by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. It offers Canadian provinces and territories the opportunity to create their own immigration streams to better meet their labour market needs and economic development objectives.

Canada introduced the PNP in 1998 to address the disproportionate number of immigrants heading to the country's largest provinces, such as British Columbia, Ontario, or Quebec. One of the main objectives of the PNP is to encourage immigrants to settle in less populated areas of the country.

Today, the PNP accounts for a very significant share of economic immigration to most provinces and territories in Canada. In fact, many smaller Canadian provinces such as Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan depend on this program to meet their demographic and labour force needs.

Given the importance of the PNP for the provinces and territories, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) ensured that Express Entry invitations for PNP nominees continue on an almost biweekly basis since the start of the pandemic, while other federal immigration programs, such as Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Worker Program, have experienced interruptions or irregularities.

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2021 PNP Top Stories


The year 2021 saw the resumption of PNP draws in early January. Alberta had capped its immigrant intake the previous year and temporarily suspended invitation rounds through the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program. Alberta held regular invitations throughout 2021 and reported that it had issued all 6,250 certificates for 2021.

In 2020, the Government of Alberta announced that would be launching a new immigration stream for international graduates: The Foreign Graduate Start-up Visa Stream (FGSVS). The new stream has been open to applicants since January 27, 2021.

British Columbia

Through the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program, the province invites the top-scoring provincial candidates on a weekly basis. Express Entry British Columbia, Skills Immigration, as well as the Tech stream, are some of the most active in the country.

This past year, the province invited more than 11,500 candidates to apply for a provincial nomination.

On 14 November, the province also announced that 20 new communities had signed up for the second phase of the Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot. Each of these communities has identified the types of businesses that are priorities for them. They are looking for entrepreneurs with experience in running these types of businesses. Each community manages its pilot project and asks interested parties to contact them directly to see if their proposal and work experience matches their priorities.


Manitoba has also been issuing invitations regularly through the following three streams: Skilled Workers in Manitoba, Skilled Workers Overseas and International Education Stream. The province held nearly 30 draws through each stream and invited 11,179 immigration candidates to apply for a provincial nomination in 2021.

New Brunswick

On August 18, 2021, New Brunswick announced that it would pilot a new immigration stream to help respond to the province's growing labour needs.

Starting April 1, 2022, international students who graduate from one of New Brunswick's four established private career colleges, and who have studied in one of 19 identified occupations, will be eligible to apply to the Provincial Nominee Program, enabling them to work and live in the province while waiting for permanent residence.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador started accepting applications under a new Priority Skills Newfoundland and Labrador stream on January 2, 2021. The new immigration stream targets highly educated, highly skilled newcomers with specialized experience in areas where demand has outpaced local training and recruitment, such as technology and ocean sciences occupations. The program was created to help address local labour market shortages. It is open to newcomers who have at least one year of work experience in highly-skilled, high-demand occupations, as well as post-graduates who completed a Masters or Doctorate degree at Memorial University in the last three years.

According to information released by the province in November of 2021, the province invited a  total of 663 candidates to apply for a provincial nomination through the new stream.

Nova Scotia

In November 2021, the Nova Scotia Nominee Program announced that it will be accepting applications from food service workers through its Occupations in Demand Stream. To address shortages in the food service sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, Nova Scotia added three new eligible occupations under the stream. These occupations are: NOC 6513 (Food and beverage servers),  NOC 6711 (Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, and related support occupations) and
NOC 6731 (Light duty cleaners).


Ontario's Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) held invitations rounds across most of its streams in 2021 and launched an expression of interest system for intake to the following streams: Employer Job Offer: Foreign Worker and International Student streams, Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills, Masters Graduate and PhD Graduate streams. Ontario has issued a total of 7,432 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination through these five streams in 2021.

Ontario’s three Express Entry-linked nomination streams – Human Capital Priorities, French-Speaking Skilled Worker and Skilled Trades – have issued 8,234 Notifications of Interest to Express Entry candidates in 2021.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP) draws are prescheduled and held once a month. In 2021, the province invited 1,804 candidates. A total of 1,697 were from the Labour Impact and Express Entry streams and 157 from the Business Impact stream.


The province held over 15 draws through two sub-categories of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP,) Express Entry and Occupations In-Demand, this year and issued 6,799 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination.

In addition to holding these regular draws, the province announced the launch of a new immigration pilot in late 2021. Called the Hard-To-Fill Skills Pilot, this stream will allow Saskatchewan employers to recruit international talent in the province's highest-demand labour sectors, such as health, manufacturing, agriculture, agri-technology, construction, hospitality, and retail.

In December 2021, the province also launched a new International Healthcare Worker Expression of Interest (EOI) Pool which allows candidates to submit an online form indicating they are interested in working in a selected health care occupation in Saskatchewan.

How do PNPs Work?

If an immigration candidate meets the PNP selection criteria of a particular province or territory, they are awarded a provincial nomination that allows them to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (RCC) for permanent residence.

PNP streams are designed to attract immigrants of all skill levels and are administered by the provinces and territories.

Most participating provinces and territories have at least one PNP stream that is aligned with the federal Express Entry system, which is Canada’s principal source of economic immigration.

Express Entry-linked PNP streams, also referred to as "enhanced" PNPs, allow a province to select Express Entry candidates and invite them to apply for a provincial nomination. Express Entry candidates who are nominated by a province or territory are awarded an additional 600 points toward their Comprehensive Ranking System score.

PNP streams that operate outside of Express Entry referred to as "base" PNPs, can also nominate candidates, who then pursue permanent residence outside of the Express Entry system.

Provinces and territories may nominate candidates under either the basic or enhanced streams of the PNP.  IRCC determines the allocation of nominations on an annual basis based on its annual immigration levels planning and consultations with the provinces. Between now and 2023, PNPs alone are expected to result in more than 80,000 immigrants per year being admitted as permanent residents.

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