Canada’s PNP immigration targets will continue to exceed Express Entry

Edana Robitaille
Updated: Aug, 11, 2023
  • Published: November 7, 2022

The Immigration Levels Plan announced on November 1 will significantly increase the target of permanent residents arriving in Canada by up to 500,000 per year by 2025.

A large part of the overall target increase is the rise in allocations under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). In 2022 the program invited a total of 83,500 new permanent residents but the Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025 shows a sharp spike of an additional 20,000 new permanent residents, up to 105,000, for 2023. The PNP target increases for 2024 and 2025 will be more modest at 110,000 and 117,500, respectively. This means that by 2025, one fifth of the total number of new permanent residents will be admitted through a PNP.

While the provinces select the immigrants they feel will best contribute to the provincial labour force, it is still Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that has the final say on whether a candidate can become a permanent resident.

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This is part of the multi-year PNP allocation plan that Canada’s immigration ministers agreed to develop during a meeting last summer.

In contrast, Express Entry programs will invite 82,880 new permanent residents in 2023, up to 114,000 by 2025. This is a continuation of the high targets for 2022 when PNP targets overtook Express Entry

PNP targets are broken down into allocations for each province. For example, in 2022 IRCC allocated 6,500 provincial nomination certificates to Alberta and 9,700 to Ontario. The allocation for each province over the next three years has not yet been made public.

Until the Immigration levels Plan 2022-2024, even though Canada sets its permanent residence targets over a three-year period, PNP allocations were determined on an annual basis. The ministers agreed that in future, PNP allocation targets will also be set on a three-year basis.

Provinces asked for larger PNP targets

Earlier this year the provinces met and called upon the government for a drastic increase in immigration targets through the PNP, citing Canada’s historic labour shortage.

There are currently nearly one million job vacancies in Canada and an unemployment rate of 5.2%. There are not enough people in the Canadian workforce to fill all the vacant positions, particularly as many of them are in specific skilled sectors such as healthcare and tech.

Provinces typically offer immigration streams that target specific occupations that are in-demand within the province. By increasing the number of immigrants provinces can select and invite through these streams, they are better equipped to fill their most urgent job vacancies, which can differ between each province. This also benefits immigrants as they are more likely to find skilled employment, settle and integrate more easily.

What is the PNP

Immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments as set out by the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (IRPA).

Under the PNP, provincial governments decide which skill set will be the most beneficial for the provincial economy and then invite skilled candidates to apply. If a candidate accepts a provincial nomination, meaning they intend to live and work in the province, they can then apply for permanent residency though IRCC.

The PNP began in 1998 and welcomed 400 immigrants in 1999. The number has grown each year until reaching more than 40,000 by 2012. It has since more than doubled to over 80,000 admissions per year as of 2022.

The PNP has experienced steady yearly target increases because the federal and provincial governments consider it an effective tool to promote the economic development of the country outside of the provinces and urban centres with already high immigrant population.

Before provincial nomination, immigrants overwhelmingly chose to settle in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. This meant that the benefits of immigration, such as a robust workforce and diverse communities, did not have a strong presence in the prairies, the Atlantic provinces, or the territories.

Provincial nomination incentivizes Express Entry candidates by adding an additional 600 points to their score through the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Candidates who are not eligible for Express Entry may also find it easier to obtain permanent resident status with a provincial nomination.

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