Ontario reveals raft of immigration changes

Ontario is to create a new immigration stream for tech workers along with a new pilot initiative with the goal of attracting highly skilled immigrants to smaller communities around the province.

The initiatives are among four immigration-focused priorities outlined in the province’s new $163.4 billion budget, which was unveiled yesterday afternoon in Toronto.

“The Province is responding to the needs of Ontario’s employers by attracting the skilled workers they need through enhancements to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP),” the budget said. “Through modernisation of the OINP, and in tandem with its other initiatives, the government will continue to ensure that Ontario’s workforce remains among the most highly skilled for the modern economy.”

The new dedicated tech immigration stream would feed Ontario’s booming tech sector in cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Waterloo, which have all seen significant high-tech job growth in recent years.

The stream is linked to the federal Express Entry system, which manages the pool of candidates for three of Canada’s main economic immigration categories — the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class and Canadian Experience Class.

The province’s government will also introduce a pilot initiative “to explore innovative approaches to bring highly skilled immigrants” to smaller communities around the province. The proposed pilot follows calls from community leaders in Northern Ontario for a program similar to the Atlantic Immigration Pilot – a joint federal-provincial initiative that allows designated employers in Canada’s four Atlantic provinces to recruit skilled foreign workers for jobs they haven’t been able to fill locally.

The province’s new budget also says the government will seek to include truck drivers and personal support workers under the occupations that are eligible for the OINP’s Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills Stream, while the financial criteria for the province’s Entrepreneur Scheme will also be reviewed to make Ontario ‘more competitive with other provinces.’

Article published 12th April 2019