Sponsored Content: Economic migrants being drawn to the West and North

March 24, 2015

By Gayle Wilson, Vancouver Sun |

Western Canada, which has long drawn workers from eastern provinces to fuel its economy, is also attracting a disproportionate number of economic migrants from around the world.

The North is also seeing a substantial increase in newcomers from abroad. And while immigrant experts try to understand the changing nuances of migrant numbers, they’re grappling with yet another growing phenomenon among migrants – secondary migration. Increasingly, newcomers are moving from one area to another.

Immigration Research West (IRW), one of the organizers of the 17th Annual Metropolis Conference, has been looking into regional variances and how they impact integration and settlement issues.

Funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and based at the University of Manitoba, the IRW works to enhance the research capacity of faculty and students and help service providers and government offices understand immigrant settlement in western and northern Canada.

Its director, Lori Wilkinson, points out that according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s 2014 Facts and Figures, 97,102 immigrants arrived in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Territories in 2013, or 37.5 per cent of all newcomers to Canada.

That figure rises to 45 per cent when temporary workers and international students are included. Regarding the north specifically, while the number of temporary migrants is small, Wilkinson has observed it has increased significantly in the past decade.

“Between 2004 and 2013, the number of temporary migrants has increased by 30 per cent. The number of permanent residents has more than doubled since 2004, with 80 per cent of that growth in the economic classes — meaning people are mainly going there because there are good job opportunities for them,” she said in an email exchange with The Sun.

“It used to be that nearly 55 per cent of all immigrants went to Ontario and another 18.7 per cent went to Quebec.”

Coupled with that, more people are choosing to move to “non-traditional” areas, she said.

“Previously, about 75 per cent of all immigrants moved to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. That proportion is down to about 60 per cent. And although the majority are still moving to big cities like Calgary and Winnipeg, there are many more people choosing to move to remote locales to take work. Fort McMurray is one example,” noted Wilkinson.

She added migrants are also increasingly moving to other, even smaller places, mainly for work, and that there’s a large movement of secondary migration.

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