A new study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada has highlighted the need for promoting regional immigration to Ontario. Ontario needs to ensure that more immigrants settle outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which will guarantee a more balanced population growth across the province. Promoting regional immigration to Ontario is also important to maintain a high quality of life, according to the study.
The study points out that 77 per cent of the new immigrants to Ontario settle in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). In 2018 alone, the number of new immigrants settled in GTA was 106,000.
Even while acknowledging the efforts of municipal and provincial governments to promote regional immigration to Ontario, the Conference Board study has highlighted the need to assist these efforts with an Ontario Regional Immigration Strategy. The purpose of the strategy has to be “a shared vision for the future, including short-, medium-, and long-term regionalization targets, regional economic priorities, performance measures to track progress, and an operational plan featuring the roles and responsibilities of each party in achieving the targets.”
Ontario’s Municipal Immigration Committee, government representatives and stakeholders such as business, workforce development groups, immigrant-serving organizations, universities and colleges have to be included as parties to the strategy. The Conference Board study suggests increasing regional immigration to Ontario by 35 per cent by 2030.
The Conference Board study has also suggested refining the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) to help promote immigration to regional areas of Ontario beyond the GTA. Further, setting an annual regional allocation target for areas of the province that have had difficulties in recruiting immigrants such as northeast and northwest Ontario will also bring about good results, according to the study. Another suggestion is refining the eligibility requirements for certain immigration streams to reflect local economic conditions. Creation of a new Community and Family Support Stream under the OINP will also promote regional immigration to Ontario, according to the study.
Immigration to Ontario
Greater Toronto Area or GTA is the most populous and multicultural metropolitan area of Canada with a population of more than 6.4 million people. Around 46 per cent of the population in the region are immigrants. GTA comprises the city of Toronto and 25 other municipalities. It the business and financial capital of Canada, contributing around 20 percent of the country’s total GDP.
All these factors make GTA an attractive destination for immigrants as they are looking for more job opportunities and community and family ties in Canada. But this trend negatively affects the economic growth prospects of the regional areas of Ontario. Regional immigration to Ontario gains all the more relevance in this context.
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