More and more immigrants are staying in Quebec

More and more immigrants are staying in Quebec

New immigrants are increasingly staying in Quebec after becoming permanent residents, Statistics Canada finds. The province's performance can be attributed primarily to its high retention rate of skilled workers.

Published at 12:54 am. Updated at 05:00.


Arriving in Quebec is one thing. Moving there is something different. Statistics Canada released data on immigrant retention rates across the country on Wednesday.

In Quebec, the rate of immigrants still residing in the province one year after obtaining permanent residency increased from 85.1% in 2016 to 91.0% in 2020. For comparison, this rate fell slightly in Ontario , from 94.9% in 2016 to 92.8% in 2020.

Quebec's results are now approaching those of British Columbia, where 91.3% of immigrants remained in the province after one year in 2020.

On the contrary, in the Prairies, the one-year retention rate has declined since 2016, while performance in the Maritimes varies from province to province.

More and more immigrants are staying in Quebec

Quebec's good performance can be explained by its solid economy, low unemployment rate and certain immigration policies, analyzes public immigration policy specialist at the University of Montreal, Catherine Xhardez.

“The process for entering Quebec as a permanent resident is very selective,” she explains. There are stable thresholds, language requirements and processing times are much longer than elsewhere in Canada. So whoever chooses Quebec is because they want to come to Quebec and stay there. »

Skilled retention advocate

All categories combined, it is generally immigrants supported by their families who stay in the same province the longest, Statistics Canada reports. Nursing assistants and family helpers are also at the top of the list.

However, Quebec leads the country in retaining skilled workers or professionals for at least one year.

Between 2016 and 2020, the retention rate for this category of immigrants in Quebec increased from 86.3% to 91.4%, a record for all provinces combined.

In Ontario, however, the rate fell from 87.3% to 81.9% over the same period. In British Columbia, this rate also fell from 72.3% to 67.4%.

The language problem could make Quebec less exposed to competition between provinces, analyzes Ms. Xhardez.

“Today, a Francophone who wants to immigrate to Canada will go somewhere other than Quebec because it is much longer and more difficult to get to Quebec,” she notes. So in the rest of Canada there may be more competition between provinces. »

In other words, a qualified worker who settles in La Belle province – especially if he speaks French – is less likely to be tempted by a more promising offer elsewhere in the country.

Admission of new permanent residents also tends to occur “in stages,” meaning immigrants arrive on temporary residency permits (work visas, study, etc.) before receiving their permanent residency permits, the researcher adds. So they already have roots when they get permanent residency.

“These are people who are establishing themselves, integrating, whose children are already going to school,” she lists.

Five-year data

When Statistics Canada measures retention rates over five years, the results are much more stable in Quebec.

The most recent data available is for 2016. The federal agency was able to assess whether immigrants who received permanent residency that year were still in their original province five years later.

Of all immigrants who arrived in Quebec in 2016, 8 in 10 were still in the province in 2021, a stable rate compared to the previous five years. In comparison, in Ontario, more than nine out of 10 immigrants were still residents of the province after five years. In British Columbia the rate also remains at around 87%.

Rise in the Atlantic, decline in the prairies

Across Canada, Statistics Canada's latest report also shows significant variation between the Prairie and Atlantic provinces.

The Atlantic provinces, long the biggest losers in retention rates, have seen an increase in their ability to provide long-term reception. In these regions, the establishment of the Atlantic Canada Immigration Pilot Program in 2017 made a difference, Statistics Canada notes.

“The Atlantic has long been the poor immigration region, but it has become more dynamic and we are seeing more interesting retention rates,” notes Chedly Belkhodja, a professor at Concordia University whose research focuses on the regionalization of immigration.

On the contrary, in the prairies, the economic downturn is reflected in retention rates. While in Alberta in 2012, 91.5% of immigrants had stayed in the province for five years, that rate rose to 84.5% in 2016. The decline was even more drastic in Saskatchewan, where the rate fell from 72.2% to 57.9% over the same period.