Immigration Pilot Initiative to Attract Highly Skilled Immigrants to Ontario Canada

The government of Ontario Canada will create a new immigration pilot initiative. The initiative has a goal to attract highly skilled immigrants to smaller cities and towns throughout the Ontario province. As part of the initiative, the province will create a new immigration stream for tech workers. These initiatives are part of a four-pronged approach to immigration priorities that the province plans to pursue. The province outlined the initiatives in its new $163.4 billion budget, published in April 2019.

Ontario Immigration Priorities

In its new budget, the provincial government of Ontario identified four priorities it plans to pursue through enhancements to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program. The four priorities include the following:

  1. New immigration pilot initiative to draw immigrants to smaller cities and towns
  2. Focused stream for tech workers
  3. Expansion of eligible in-demand occupations to include workers such as personal support providers and truck drivers
  4. Changing the thresholds for net worth and personal investments in the entrepreneur immigration program

Ontario Seeks Fair Allocation Under Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program

Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) lets individual Canadian provinces and territories nominate people who desire to immigrate to Canada and prefer to settle in a specific province. For 2019, Ontario requested an allocation of 7,600 nominations through this program. However, the number for 2019 fell short by 700, with only 6,900 allocations offered to Ontario. Ontario seeks to work with the PNP to ensure its annual allocation is fair. Although the allocation is a small part of annual immigration to Ontario, it reflects 5% of the province’s 137,410 immigrants during 2018.

New Immigration Pilot Initiative to Help Recruit Foreign Workers

The new immigration pilot initiative will help smaller cities and towns recruit foreign workers who desire to settle in the province of Ontario. The government hopes the program will enable smaller cites and towns to gain the benefits of immigration that larger cities in Ontario have been experiencing.

Smaller Cities and Towns in Ontario That May Benefit From the New Immigration Pilot Initiative

Greater Sudbury, also known commonly as Sudbury

Estimated Population: 162,000

Known for: Lumber, nickel mining, and related industries. The city’s economy has expanded beyond resource mining and now includes elements of film and television production, health services, education, and government services. Sudbury is the major economic center of Northeastern Ontario.

Kawartha Lakes

Estimated Population: 76,000

Known for: Canadian cottage lifestyle, made possible by over 250 lakes and rivers in the region. The city’s economy includes tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and arts/culture. Located 90 minutes northeast of Toronto, Kawartha Lakes annually receives over 1.6 million visitors, especially during the summer months.

Thunder Bay

Estimated Population: 108,000

Known for: Located on Lake Superior, and serves as the region’s commercial center. The city’s industry base includes several public sector employers including the government of Ontario. Private employers include Resolute Forest Products, a pulp and paper manufacturing company, and Bombardier Transportation, a manufacturer of mass transit vehicles and equipment. Thunder Bay is working to attract knowledge-based industries, particularly in the science sector to complement the locally-based western campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. The city is an ideal candidate for the new immigration pilot initiative.


Estimated Population: 3,500

Known for: “The Gateway to the Arctic” and the province’s only saltwater port. Orignally a fur trading post, Moosonee is renowned for being an area with the province’s most untouched wilderness. The natural beauty and wild areas are key to the city’s burgeoning ecotourism industry. Visitors must arrive by plane, water, or rail including the world famous Polar Bear Express, a 186-mile trip by rail from Cochrane to Moosonee. The city is the point of transfer for goods arriving on the Ontario Northland Railway. The goods are then loaded onto barges and aircraft for shipment to communities further north.


Estimated Population: 8,000

Known for: Max the Moose, the city’s 18 foot high mascot stationed along the Trans-Canada Highway. Dryden hosts an annual Max the Moose festival featuring musical acts, sports, and community activities. The main industries in Dryden include agriculture, agri-foods, mining, manufacturing, renewable energy including solar and biomass, sports, and recreation.

What Does This New Immigration Pilot Initiative Mean?

Employers in Ontario should expect to see an increase in the number of immigrants seeking jobs as part of the new immigration pilot initiative. They should also expect to see a rise in the need for pre-arrival settlement services. The immigration ministry provides a number of helpful language and integration services, classes, and resources to increase job readiness, success, and retention.

Employers not currently in Ontario might consider the province as a strategic location for corporate expansion. The services of an International Professional Employer Organization (PEO) may be useful to help an employer enter Ontario and quickly test the local market.

What should Employers do About This New Immigration Pilot Initiative?

Employers in Ontario should review their company’s growth plans and requirements for jobs across all levels of skill sets. They should also determine how their company’s growth plans will impact the jobs required to meet business plans and goals. Since the new immigration pilot initiative in Ontario seeks to help smaller cities and towns recruit workers, employers should review their talent acquisition and management programs to ensure they align with a growing number of immigrants in their workforce.

Employers outside of Ontario should investigate the services of an International PEO. Relocation Management Companies (RMCs) can provide expert assistance to employers looking to expand their corporate presence in Ontario.


GMS’ team of global relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients develop relocation programs that attract and retain qualified employees in remote and challenging locations. Our team can help your company determine how to benefit as Ontario develops its new immigration pilot initiative.

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Learn best practices from Global Mobility Solutions, the relocation industry and technology experts who are dedicated to keeping you informed and connected. Contact our experts online to discuss your company’s relocation and visa program needs for Ontario as a result of its new immigration pilot initiative, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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