The Ontario government has introduced legislation aimed at attracting a greater number of skilled immigrant workers, and the new law may also represent a new opportunity for wealthy immigrants in the wake of the recent cancellation of the federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP).
The proposed Ontario Immigration Act is supposed to work in sync with Canada’s federal immigration strategy, with the ultimate goals of maximizing the social and economic benefits of future immigration. The Ontario government believes these goals will be accomplished by three primary methods:
- Passing legislation that allows the provincial government to set its own immigration targets designed to meet future labor needs
- Greater efforts at fraud prevention by improving compliance and enforcement measures in selecting immigrant candidates, and stricter penalties for fraudulent applicants
- Ensuring the provincial government aligns its immigration plans with the efforts of the Canadian federal government
Ontario also has plans to reform its Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) to better accommodate expected increases in the number of immigrants allocated to the province by the federal government. Ontario has requested increasing the number of provincial-nominees from 1,300 to 5,000 highly skilled immigrant tradespeople.
For wealthy immigrant investors, many of whom were Chinese nationals affected by the recent cancellation of the IIP program, Ontario’s immigration reform may also present another method to invest—and immigrate—to Canada. In fact, Ontario’s immigration minister recently told Chinese media that his province sees investor immigrants as a “key part” of that province’s immigration plans.
Ontario Immigration Minister Michael Coteau said his government “wants people to invest in Ontario…to make sure we can maintain the quality of life we have here.” To qualify as an investor under the PNP, an investment has to meet a minimum of $3 million, with an average processing time of about 90 days.
Immigration decisions made by the Ontario provincial government have considerable impact, as the province remains the top destination for all immigrants to Canada. New immigrants also make up about 30 percent of Ontario’s overall labor force.
Immigration also plays an integral role in planning Ontario’s economic future. The provincial government predicts that over the next 25 years, immigration to the province will account for virtually all of the increases in the province’s working age population, as well as a major source for future labor force growth.