Why the shift from Metropolitan Areas to Small Urban Areas?Metropolitan areas are often the first choice for newcomers. That’s because immigrants prefer to settle in regions where they have existing social networks, economic and employment opportunities and enjoy the general appeal of the area. But recent studies show that around 4.4 per cent of recent immigrants settled in small urban areas. It also stated around 3 per cent of recent immigrants settled in rural areas. Although there are no comprehensive explanations as to why immigrants are geographically redistributing, one pattern noticed is that studies of changes in immigration policy suggest that the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are partly responsible. Several immigration programs and investments (Like PNP) were designed to help balance the geographical distribution of recent immigrants across the country. These programs encourage settlement in both small and large metropolitan areas.
How does PNP Affect Immigrant Destinations?A PNP’s purpose is to allow provinces to create their own immigration programs to address and help regional economic and population needs. For example, if a provincial government from Alberta notices there is a shortage of workers in engineering, it can then create an immigration pathway for foreign workers to fill the said gap. However, that scenario was just made up. Some notable and real PNP strategies that have emerged include British Columbia’s BC Tech Draw, which aims to combat the lack of tech workers in the province. Instead of participating in the bi-weekly draws of Express Entry, BC holds its Tech Draws every week. Another initiative made to attract new immigrants away from metropolitan areas is the Manitoba Morden Immigration Initiative. This has helped open the door for those looking to live and reside in Morden, a small Praire town, by awarding points to people with relatives or friends in the province. Ultimately, these PNP programs – which started in 1996 – have helped bring newcomers to Canada. Over one-third of all economic immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2021 were PNP candidates.
Newcomers are avoiding metropolitan areas by immigrating to Atlantic Canada.One popular destination that is growing in numbers is Atlantic Canada. As a refresher, Atlantic Canada consists of four provinces in the east – New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. Below is the percentage of recent immigrants that have moved to these cities from 2016 to 2021:
- 48.4 per cent immigrated to Moncton, New Brunswick.
- 39.2 per cent immigrated to Fredericton, New Brunswick.
- 36.2 per cent immigrated to Saint John, New Brunswick.
- 35.2 per cent immigrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
- 32.5 per cent immigrated to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.