Prairie provinces would benefit most from boosting immigration targets: report | globalnews.ca

A new report by Desjardins suggests that an increase in Canada̵7;s immigration target could spur economic growth, with the Prairie benefiting the most.

Principal economist Mark DeSormo says his analysis shows Canada’s plan to increase immigration could boost per capita GDP if newcomers continue to have the same success in finding work that they have enjoyed recently.

“This is important because in the past there have been questions about whether immigration only boosts GDP or GDP per capita,” he said.

GDP per capita is a country’s gross domestic product divided by the population. Many consider it a better measure of a country’s standard of living than the GDP figure.

In November, the federal government announced a new immigration plan under which Canada would welcome 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025.

Read more: Ambitious immigration target could help Alberta with labor shortage: report

Desjardins’ analysis shows that Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will post the highest GDP growth rates among the provinces.

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Desormeaux says this is because those provinces have higher labor market participation rates and were the first provinces to adopt provincial nominee programs, which allow provinces to select migrants who match their economic needs .

The report credits the recent success of immigration in finding jobs for immigrants as well as better integration of Canada’s tight labor market.

As Canada looks to a potential recession, however, Desormeaux says, “it is an open question whether some of these strong labor market results will continue into next year.”

Read more: Saskatchewan wants to increase controls on immigration

The Bank of Canada’s aggressive interest rate hikes over the past year are expected to weigh heavily on the economy in the coming months.

Economists predict that the recession will increase unemployment, which could change labor market conditions for immigrants.

DeSormo said that during the global financial crisis of 2008–09, immigrants bore the brunt of the economic downturn.

But this has not happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“We think conditions are ripe for you to continue strong labor market integration over the next few weeks, despite the downturn in the Canadian economy.”

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