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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.

Express Entry

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.

Alberta

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.

Ontario

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.

PEI

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.

Sakatchewan

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!

Harbourfront at Midland, OntarioHarbourfront at Midland, Ontario

 

Wye Marsh, OntarioWye Marsh, Ontario

 

Alice at the Wye Marsh CentreAlice at the Wye Marsh Centre

 

Salzburger Hof Resort restaurant, Batchawana Bay Salzburger Hof Resort restaurant on Batchawana Bay, Ontario

My relatives flew back to England last weekend after a two-week stay. Previous family visits have always involved camping or  cottages, but this time we stayed home and enjoyed some Northern Ontario day trips. It being September, we weren’t sure what to expect weather-wise, but we had almost constant sunshine and temperatures into the 20s, at least at the beginning of the fortnight. Here are some of our holiday highlights.

Muskoka
We decided to visit Huntsville to show my Mum-in-law “the Christmas shop”–i.e. Christmas Thyme–and it didn’t disappoint.  She enjoyed browsing all the Christmas trinkets and had her picture taken next to a big snowman. It was sad to see though that yet another cottage country restaurant has been taken over by Boston Pizza. The drive along Hwy 3 between Rosseau and Huntsville was really fun and there were pockets of countryside where the leaves had changed colour more than in Sudbury, which was surprising.

Bridal Veil Falls, Kagawong

Bridal Veil Falls, Kagawong

Manitoulin
We’d never made it to Manitoulin Island with my husband’s family on previous visits, so were determined to get there this time. We made our usual lunch stop at the Anchor Grill in Little Current, where they were in the process of taking down their patio – a sad sight! From there we went on to one of my favourite places on the Island–Kagawong. Normally when we stop at the Bridal Veil Falls there are perhaps one or two cars in the car park. But this was the day when everyone had decided to visit and the place was heaving! Manitoulin Chocolate Works was also on the agenda and–being pretty much the only place open still  open on a Sunday afternoon– was doing a brisk trade in coffees.

On the waterfront at North Bay

On the waterfront at North Bay

North Bay/Field
We took our favourite route to North Bay, which involves a short detour north via Field. This is a great route for anyone who likes their road trips a little twisty with lots of lakes to enjoy. Plus, this being a little further north, the colours were amazing.

Lunch at Average Joe's

Lunch at Average Joe’s

Average Joes was awarded meal of the holiday. We decimated our huge portions (Yes, I’m addicted to sweet potato fries…) and lingered at our table after eating, enjoying the view over Trout Lake. Here too, it was patio dismantling time. After a browse round the mall for a little early Christmas shopping, we braved the strong breeze on the waterfront. Bizarrely, the Chief Commanda II had been “parked” for the season, so no fall boat cruises available to enjoy the colours at their peak.

A very stationary Chief Commanda II

A very stationary Chief Commanda II

We finished the vacation by watching “Men with Brooms,” a Canadian comedy starring a young Paul Gross and Leslie Nielsen. And filmed in and around Sudbury! I first watched this back in England when it was first released, so it was fun to see it again all these years later. I’m still none the wiser about curling though :)

It was great to have the opportunity to be a tourist again for a few days and I’m now looking forward to the long weekend and hopefully a little more touring and exploring.

Happy Thanksgiving!