How is your summer going? Normally in Ontario we could expect a long hot summer of close to 30 degree temperatures. How different it’s been this year! More like a British summer with lots of rain and cloudy days. We’re finally seeing some better weather now, and I’ve enjoyed road trips to Midland Ontario, the Lake Superior area, and the Deer Trail near Elliot Lake. More to come on those in future blog posts. For now, here’s an update on latest immigration developments and some snippets of Canadian news.
Changes to Express Entry that were announced a few months back came into effect last month. These include extra points for French language skills and extra points if you have siblings in Canada. And there’s no longer any requirement to register with the Job Bank, although this still remains an option. After a bumper month in May, there was just one Express Entry draw in June (3409 invitations to apply) and one in July (3202 ITAs). The comprehensive ranking score for the lowest scoring candidate was back up to the 440-450 range after dropping to an all-time low in May.
There is huge emphasis right now on getting people here quickly. Highly skilled temporary workers are now benefiting from the new Global Skills Strategy announced last month. This is a special fast-track route with 2-week processing of work permits, temporary resident visas provided where needed, and in some cases work permit exceptions if your assignment here is very short term. This allows much more flexibility for researchers and academics.
After a few difficult years, it’s good to hear that the economic situation and levels of employment are picking up in Calgary. There’s also a sense that the drop in oil prices may have been a good wake-up call as it’s forced people and companies there to think more about diversification.
Alberta has always been a hugely popular destination for new immigrants, but perhaps not near the top of the list for French speakers. However, it seems that may be changing. I was surprised to learn that Alberta now has the third largest French-speaking population in Canada outside of Quebec and one of the fastest growing French speaking populations. And the province has recently released its first ever French policy with the aim of improving government supports for French speakers.
This summer has seen several updates for the very popular Ontario PNP program. No more applications are being accepted for the Employer Job Offer stream as this has reached its intake limit. And after a sudden surge in applications, there’s now a hold on intakes for the Ontario Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream. To date, around half of the Ontario’s potential 6000 nominations have been made with processing times varying between 30-90 days. Most recently, this stream had been targeting IT professionals.
Anyone thinking of moving to Barrie Ontario will be pleased to hear about their GO line improvements. Barrie’s also been in the news for other reasons. It’s now one of the most expensive places to rent in Canada. Aside from Toronto and Ottawa, other Ontario locations at the more expensive end include Kingston and Oshawa
The GO train is also set to expand into the Kitchener-Waterloo area, making it an even more attractive destination for business and all those IT giants (ie. Google) and startups that congregate there. A new IBM Innovation Incubator has just been launched in Waterloo, expected to create up to 2600 jobs by 2020.
If you work in the construction sector and have been thinking of making the move to Canada, there could be opportunities in PEI. The province recently announced it will need close to 2000 new construction workers over the next 10 years. Both residential and commercial construction is apparently booming.
For an interesting look at the challenges and rewards of settling somewhere smaller, check out this profile of a Canadian immigrant from Iran whose family has settled in Charlottetown.
In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation (SOCO) has listed technology sector development as one of its priorities in its latest annual report. This province now has the third highest population growth rate behind Manitoba and Ontario.
Overall, the situation is looking more positive for Canada’s economy halfway through 2017. The Canadian dollar hit 80 cents US for the first time since 2015. The employment rate has increased over the last few months, with Quebec and B.C. showing the biggest increases, and Alberta and Ontario staying about the same. Jobs in what are classed as scientific, professional, and technical services have seen the biggest increase, notably in computer system design services.
Next month, I’ll have a guest post highlighting some of the great settlement services available to immigrants before arriving in Canada. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from my summer travels so far!