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If you’re read my book, you’ll know I’m all about doing your research and dealing with reputable organisations that provide credible information. With that in mind, I’m happy to introduce a guest post from Caroline Purver. Caroline is based in Ottawa where she’s a Cultural Communications Facilitator with SOPA (Settlement Online Pre-Arrival) Ontario. Here she explains how you can take advantage of their free, government-funded service to arrive in Canada better prepared for the job market.


Imagine arriving in a new country armed with information to help you settle and find a job faster. Envision finding a job in your field just weeks or months after landing. With the help of Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA), this can actually be a reality as seen in our many success stories.

SOPA is a nation-wide pre-arrival service (funded by IRCC) which helps newcomers arrive prepared to Canada. We offer a personalized online intake session for each participant (to assess needs and go over any settlement questions as well as provide access to one or more of our five free online courses). Because SOPA is a nation-wide program, your intake counsellor will be located in your desired province (except for Quebec) and will be able to provide you with local and up-to-date information. The best part is that this is all done before arriving to Canada!

SOPA logo

By taking advantage of our free online courses, newcomers will be one step-ahead with gaining knowledge on how to find a job (specifically in Canada) and learning about the cultural expectations in the Canadian workplace – again all before arriving to the country.

In order to be eligible for the program, you must have received confirmation of permanent residency for Canada (COPR) but have not yet arrived in the country (as we are a dedicated pre-arrival service). For information on how to register, please visit our website:

We always look forward to working with clients, from around the world, and are confident that those who participate in the program will be better prepared as they start on their journey in Canada.


Thanks, Caroline, for introducing us to SOPA. This is a fantastic service for new immigrants. If you have your COPR, I’d encourage you to check our their web site and consider registering for the courses. It will definitely put you one step ahead when you move here. 


There’s a lot to get through this month! Let’s start with some economic news. Latest results show better than expected economic figures in Canada with growth across manufacturing, wholesale trade, the retail sector, construction, mining, and oil and gas.

Innovation and job creation are the watch words right now with federal and Ontario liberals announcing new projects and dispensing big sums of money this week. More IT and engineering jobs could be on the horizon in Windsor and Ottawa with huge government investment in research and engineering. Meanwhile, Ontario is establishing the futuristic-sounding Vector Institute, a centre for AI research. I’m pleased that some money is coming to Northern Ontario too with an engineering and sciences research centre in the works at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

Express entry

On to Express Entry and yes, it’s being tweaked again.  They aren’t huge changes compared with last year’s. This time the emphasis is on adaptability factors such as language and family, with the aim of bringing in more French speakers to strengthen Francophone minority communities in Canada.

Currently, you can score up to 136 points for your first official language and up to 24 for the second. This won’t change, but as of  June 6th you’ll qualify for extra points if you have “strong French language skills” plus ability in English. This will be judged via the standardized language tests that all Express Entry candidates have to complete. If your French is assessed at intermediate level or better and you have basic level English you can gain an extra 15 points. Those French skills combined with intermediate level or higher English? That can net you up to 30 extra points.

Another change–and somewhere simpler to follow–if you (or your spouse) have a sibling who is already a permanent resident or citizen in Canada, you’ll gain an extra 15 points. Your sibling must be 18 or older.

Finally, if you’re applying to immigrate but don’t have a job offer or provincial nomination, you’re no longer required to set up a Job Bank account. This will become voluntary.

The number of Invitations To Apply (ITAs) issued in the latest Express Entry draw was down on the previous one–3749 compared to 3884, and the points requirements went up slightly to 441 from 434. But overall, total ITAs are up by over 50% for the first 3 months of this year as compared to last–a very positive sign.

Canadian flag

Atlantic Canada

New Brunswick perhaps isn’t always top of mind when deciding where to settle in Canada but it’s definitely out to attract more immigrants. The province and the federal government have just signed the first ever Canada-New Brunswick immigration agreement. The aim is to bring in more skilled workers to address their labour shortages, and they are especially keen to attract French speakers.

In fact, there is a strong push to bring in more immigrants to all four of Canada’s Atlantic provinces and IRCC is reporting strong employer interest in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program.


In other news, Ontario is expanding its Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) with the number of nominees increasing this year to 6000. If you work in ICT you’ll be interested to know that a quarter of Ontario provincial nominees are working in this field. Although things have perhaps declined a little from the Blackberry/RIM heyday, the IT sector is still thriving especially in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

If you want to get an idea of what Ontario’s top public sector employees are earning, take a look at the annual “sunshine list” published on Friday. It lists the salaries of all public sector workers who earn more than $100k. As salaries surge higher with inflation, there’s much debate as to whether the 100k threshold is meaningful anymore. But it’s still interesting to browse and see the types of jobs in there. And if you live in Ontario, it’s fun to be nosy and look up people that you know :-) The list is no longer just directors and managers but also teachers (elementary and secondary), professors, registered nurses, firefighters, IT team leads, and police constables.

And finally…

And speaking of sunshine (did you like that link? :-) ), it’s the time of year when Canadians are done with winter and looking ahead to spring. Spring is officially here, although it’s been a little difficult to tell. Sunday and Monday were hazardous with freezing rain. My yard was an ice rink and I had to battle my way into my frozen canvas portable garage with little icicles flying everywhere. Thankfully I didn’t slip on the ice, but I know many people who weren’t so lucky. Since then, temperatures are up, and a lot of snow has melted. I’m sure the barbecues and patio furniture have already been wheeled out in Canadian Tire, and apparently a few people have already been spotted wearing T-shirts :-)

Congratulations to Zoe Cremin, a software engineer originally from Ireland, who last month started working at Technologies Ltd. in Vancouver. Zoe’s case is special because she’s the first provincial nominee to become a permanent resident via Express Entry—the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in this case.

The last month has seen immigration ministers from across Canada getting together to discuss economic immigration. As always seems to be the case, the focus was on ways to improve “labour market outcomes” for new immigrants and ensure that Canada remains a destination of choice for skilled workers seeking to relocate. $1 billion is being invested in settlement services across Canada during 2015-16.

Express Entry (of course) was discussed, as well as the continued importance of PNPs. The aim is to have economic immigrants make up 70% of all Canadian immigrants within the next few years, although no target date has been given. Currently this figure stands at 63%. B.C. Minister, Shirley Bond, is quoted as saying: “with one million job openings anticipated as a result of retirements and economic growth, the Express Entry program will be an important way to help meet our workforce needs.” The situation is likely to be similar across other provinces.

There’s also a push to increase the number of French speakers entering Canada. But for anyone thinking of moving to Quebec, a reminder that their immigration system is completely separate, so they weren’t involved in these discussions at all.

Coming months will see an ongoing series of consultations with the private sector, as well as continued close analysis of labour market data with regards to setting immigration levels. Does this mean that things will be changing again in the not-too-distant future, I wonder. Hopefully not too soon as we’re all still just getting used to Express Entry.

In other immigration news, the Citizenship and Immigration Minister announced that the 50,000th Super Visa has recently been issued. The approval percentage is high for these visas—80% approval and processed within 3 months! Definitely good news for anyone hoping to bring over parents and grandparents for extended stays.

Any finally, to Ontario where the Ontario Immigration Act has recently been passed. This establishes collaboration as a key goal in addressing labour market needs and successful integration of immigrants into all communities across Ontario. Partners will include federal and local governments as well as employers and the non-profit sector. The act also supports the expansion of Ontario’s provincial nominee program.

It’s good to see that economic immigration is high on the agenda right now and that all levels of government—federal, provincial, and territorial—are working together to seek improvements. If you’re thinking of making the move to Canada and have the necessary job skills and experience, now is a good time to be considering your options. Canada definitely wants you!

I recently received a question recently from a student wanting to know how to research the average starting salary for his prospective career. He was interested in salaries within Ontario, but also in Canada as a whole. He’d taken a look at some job listing sites and company web sites, but these weren’t giving him the overall picture he was looking for.

To answer his question, I turned to the Canadian government web site Working in Canada. This site wasn’t around – at least not in this form – when I moved to Canada–and I think it’s a fantastic tool for beginning your job research.


Homepage for Working in Canada web site

Homepage for Working in Canada web site

 The site is very simple and user friendly. Just plug your job title into the search box and the site returns a set of job listings from across Canada, with salary information where provided. You can then play around with your results and filter by the following categories:

Language at work
Education levels
Type of job, i.e. permanent/temporary/casual

You also limit your search to jobs posted in the last 48 hours, a useful feature if you’re checking the site regularly, and sign up for job alerts.

It’s also useful to check out the Job Market Trends and News section. This provides information on new business developments, expansions and layoffs within Canada. Currently, for example, you can read about the Maritime Link power project in Nova Scotia, which expects to hire up to 300 people during the course of the project. Keeping an eye on this column allows you to get a feel for where the job market is strongest in Canada for your profession—and some of the areas you might want to avoid. The average weekly earnings by province also make interesting reading. Not surprisingly, Alberta heads the pack, followed by Saskatchewan then Newfoundland and Labrador.

If you want to zone in on a particular region within a province, you can do that too. For example, by searching for news for the North East of Ontario, I see that a company called IBS (unfortunate acronym), which distributes lead acid batteries, is expanding in Sudbury. Or if we take a look at Prince Edward Island, which has the lowest average weekly earnings in Canada—so many of its jobs being seasonal—you can see that a steel fabrication company has received a $5M government loan, which will hopefully lead to 30 or 40 jobs being created there. And whichever province or region you’re researching, you can be sure of reading that Walmart is expanding there. I’m not sure if that makes for good news or not!

Of course you’ll want to supplement your job research with other information sources, but Working in Canada is a very useful starting point and is great for a snapshot view of your career prospects in Canada.