Statistics Canada: PNP candidates in Ontario, Alberta and BC have highest earnings

Edana Robitaille
Published: January 8, 2024

According to a recent report by Statistics Canada, newcomers who arrive in Canada through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) may earn more if they settle in Canada’s three most populous provinces.

The report found that there were “significant differences among provinces in the average earnings of provincial nominees” throughout Canada.

As of 2020, the highest annual earnings for PNP candidates within one or two years after landing were noted in Ontario ($59,600), Alberta ($54,200), and British Columbia ($58,100)

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The lowest earnings for PNP candidates were recorded in Atlantic Canada, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The report attributes the gap to the local unemployment rate and the background characteristics of PNP principal applicants.

This was consistent regardless of the amount of time that had passed since landing, be it one year or five years. It concluded that this was in part caused by different economic conditions, unique to each province, as well as the background characteristics of each PNP candidate.

Background characteristics could include lower levels of education or little to no pre-landing Canadian work experience or education. Candidate’s official language skills also play a role.

There is more competition for high-skilled positions in provinces where the rate of unemployment is high, and therefore job seekers, both newcomers and Canadian-borns, may need to accept positions with lower earnings. For example, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador was 10% in November 2023. In contrast, there was a 5.3% rate of unemployment in British Columbia.

Earnings impacted by immigration pathway

The report also found significant differences among the earnings of economic immigrants depending on their immigration program or pathway and that since 2005, the programs with the highest earnings after immigration have shifted from PNP candidates to those who immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The report explained that pre-landing Canadian work and study experience, educational attainment, language ability, source region and age all played a part in explaining the difference in entry earnings between FSWP and PNP immigrants.

The most significant changes were seen after 2015, the year when Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) first introduced the Express Entry application management system.

Immigrants who arrive in Canada through an Express Entry program require an Educational Credential Assessment for any foreign education, formal language tests to meet minimum official language requirements and obtain high scores for other human capital factors within the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The report found that CRS scores were higher among FSWP and CEC candidates than PNP candidates.

A high CRS score can signal that a candidate has in-demand human capital attributes when they immigrate to Canada. This means they are better placed to obtain skilled work with higher earnings than other candidates. The PNP (for those who are not already Express Entry candidates) does not use the CRS and candidates in some PNP streams, such as those targeted to entry-level and semi-skilled candidates, may not require the same level of education or work experience to immigrate.

The CEC is one of the most prominent Express Entry programs. IRCC data shows that between January and September 2023, 23,910 CEC candidates received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in Express Entry draws. The same data showed ITAs were issued to 15,855 Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates and 13,655 Provincial Nominee Program candidates.

What is the PNP?

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an economic immigration pathway to permanent residence that is run, in part, by Canada’s provincial governments. This is possible because according to the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (IRPA), immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments.

The PNP allows provincial governments to select immigration candidates who are best suited to local labour force needs by having in-demand human capital attributes. These candidates are nominated by the province, which makes an application for permanent residency much stronger when it is submitted to IRCC.

IRCC sets PNP immigration targets for each year in the annually released Immigration Levels Plan. In 2024, Canada will admit 110,000 new permanent residents through the PNP and 120,000 each year in both 2025 and 2026. The department further breaks this target into allocations of nominations for each province. The number of nominations a province receives depends on factors such as the existing population, availability of settlement services and labour force requirements.

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