Think of a city in Canada. Did Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, or Calgary cross your mind? A majority of immigrants move to the big cities in the hope of landing a good job and securing a bright future without knowing that many of Canada’s smaller towns are also actively welcoming newcomers who can contribute their skills to local communities. Are you immigrating? Here’s what to consider when choosing where to live in Canada.
Know where your profession has the maximum opportunities
When choosing where to live in Canada, researching the job market is very important. “Immigrants who have been able to make better choices for themselves… they have more knowledge and connections,” says Cameron Moser, Senior Director of Services and Program Development at Acces Employment. Some of the places he advises prospective newcomers to check out include communities such as Lethbridge in Alberta, Morden in Manitoba, and Pembroke in Ontario.
One of the main reasons newcomers gravitate to big cities is because they have friends or family living there, reveals Bamidele Salako, Manager of Marketing and Communications at the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. But community support, he says, should be a secondary consideration when looking at where to move. “A big city like Calgary or Edmonton in Alberta may have fewer opportunities in your occupation, while a smaller city like Brooks, like Airdrie, like Medicine Hat, might have more opportunities in your specific field. It depends on the dominant industries and employers in your city,” he says.
How to find out where your skills are in demand
There are many immigration pathways launched at provincial and federal levels that directly link potential newcomers with the communities that require their skills. Steve Reynolds, the Executive Director at Regional Connections Immigrant Services in Manitoba, explains how some of these programs work in his province.
“A key pathway as well, to a specific city, is the immigration pathway, and this is a bit of a recent trend to provide immigration pathways directly to communities, with the federal or provincial governments. In the communities we work in, there are a few programs that do that,” he says. “Altona is one of our four locations, and it is one of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) locations for the federal government. There are 11 of those programs across the country right now. People can apply directly to the Altona RNIP program, and apply for a job, and that may be a pathway to Altona, to permanent residency, and to a job. There are also municipalities that have partnerships with the provincial government in Manitoba, through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program,” he adds.
One such example is the Morden Community Driven Immigration Initiative, in which the local populace identifies skilled workers whose skills can benefit the town. Winkler-Stanley, another town in Manitoba, recently launched its program, and Dauphin is working on a pathway for immigrants. “Many people who come to rural Manitoba and the communities we work in also come through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, so that program has been a good fit, and allocates extra points to rural connections in Manitoba,” adds Reynolds.
Many provinces also have resources where people can see if their skills match with local requirements, as well as search for jobs. “The Government of Alberta has made available the Alberta Learning Information System (ALIS), and it will help you get information on the labour markets in your specific destination of choice,” says Salako. Similar resources have been put forward by other provinces as well, examples of which include British Columbia’s WorkBC portal, as well as Ontario’s labour market.
How can you take your research forward
One of the best ways to conduct research into in-demand areas for your skills is to follow a plan that helps you plan, by considering the following.
- Who is hiring: Research which industries in which cities are hiring for your profession. The best way to do this is through Canada’s Job Bank, where you can filter through professions by province.
- What skills are needed: Find out the skills employers are looking for, and what education and professional certifications you require. Look through job descriptions that match your expertise that are put forward by companies, and then work towards securing the skills needed. You can also look up your peers on LinkedIn, and identify the skills they possess.
- What the future holds: Look into forecasts that predict which jobs will be in demand. If for any reason it is difficult to find opportunities in your specific field, explore emerging occupations. You can also explore the Job Bank to find out more about job outlooks, occupational trends by province, and even an occupational projection system that estimates the number of job openings and job seekers across many professions.
Consider other benefits of smaller communities when choosing where to live in Canada
Given that many smaller towns are actively welcoming newcomers, you could have access to better settlement services and festivals organized to make you feel like part of the community.
There are lots of opportunities outside the big cities that also come with a lower cost of living, in terms of rent and daily expenses. Smaller communities also make you feel more inclusive, provide more dedicated settlement services, and offer easier access to many facilities you require regularly. If you’re coming with family, you might also find better education opportunities for your children.
If you happen to be bilingual and speak both of Canada’s official languages – English and French – you also have access to better opportunities, many of them in Francophone communities. “Francophone immigrants are certainly an area that we have been actively focusing energy on, and we will continue to,” says Jodi Bucholtz, Manager of Local Immigration Partnership at Lanark-Renfrew Counties, just outside Ottawa. “We have heard from our employers about quite a few government employment opportunities in our region.
“There is the need for bilingual, French-speaking employees, and we don’t have a lot in the application pool that we’re seeing right now,” she explains. “We see an opportunity for newcomers to build on awareness because they know that not only do we border the province of Quebec in our area, so there is already a pretty substantial Francophone community there, but there are a lot of opportunities for Francophone immigrants.”
We at New Canadians are proud to be newcomers’ trusted connection to immigrant-focused resources. Want more pre-arrival guidance? Download our free e-book: The Ultimate Prep Guide Before You Arrive in Canada for additional tips and a checklist that will help you create an action plan for your life and work in Canada.
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