Ottawa’s commitment to regionalization is undeniable

Under the 2019-2021 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada will look to welcome 67,800 immigrants (principal applicants, spouses, and dependents) through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in the next year, which is an increase of 11 per cent compared with 2019.
Not only are provinces and territories seeking to attract more immigrants through the PNP, but they are also looking to steer more of them beyond their biggest cities. Most provinces and territories see at least 80 per cent of their immigrants settle in the largest municipalities, which comes at the expense of efforts to promote economic development in smaller cities and rural communities. To counter this, a number of provinces and territories have introduced regional PNP streams. For instance, Ontario recently selected three communities to take part in its new Regional Immigration Pilot.
The federal government is complementing the PNP with additional efforts to promote a broader distribution of immigrants across Canada (a policy known as “regionalization”).
In 2017, it launched the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which has enabled the four Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick to welcome more than 4,000 more immigrants. Based on the minister’s Mandate Letter, we can expect the AIP to become a permanent program in short order.
In 2019, the federal government launched the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) that will ramp up in 2020 as 11 designated communities across Canada begin to recruit newcomers through the pilot.
The minister’s mandate also entails the launch of a new Municipal Nominee Program. Details are not yet available, but it is reasonable to expect it to operate in a similar fashion to the RNIP whereby designated municipalities will be able to recruit newcomers who meet their labour market needs. The mandate also indicates the federal government will launch an additional pilot to promote more immigration to rural communities.
A noteworthy observation regarding these various programs is the federal government has now opted to provide provinces, territories, and communities across Canada with just over 50 per cent of Economic Class selection powers. This is a recent development and underscores the federal government’s commitment to ensuring the benefits of immigration are spread more equitably across the country.
Over the last few years, Economic Class selection powers have been split 50-50. Prior to the launch of the PNP in 1998, the federal government selected nearly 90 per cent of all economic class immigrants to Canada, with Quebec selecting the remaining 10 per cent. Will citizenship fees be waived in 2020?

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