Evaluation of the Provincial Nominee Program

Executive summary

Purpose of the evaluation

The evaluation of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) addressed thirteen evaluation questions related to program relevance and performance. Program relevance was assessed in terms of

  1. continued need;
  2. alignment with government objectives and priorities; and,
  3. consistency with respect to federal roles and responsibilities.

Program performance was assessed by examining results in terms of

  1. effectiveness and
  2. efficiency and economy.

The evaluation was designed to address the complexity of the PNP by using multiple methods and lines of evidence. In the course of the evaluation, data was collected and analyzed from a variety of primary (e.g., interviews, surveys and focus groups) and secondary sources (document and literature review, as well as federal government databases – Field Operations Support System (FOSS) and Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB)). Key data sources for primary data collection included provincial/territorial (PT) representatives, provincial nominees (PNs), CIC representatives, including those in Canadian Visa Offices Abroad (CVOAs), as well as employer and stakeholder representatives in PTs.

The timeframe of the evaluation covered the 2005 – 2009 period. However, part of the analysis used the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB), which considered PNs landed from 2000 – 2008.

The Provincial Nominee Program

The PNP allows for the eleven participating PTsFootnote 1 to nominate potential immigrants whom they believe will meet particular PT needs, and who intend to settle in the PT that nominates them. Moreover, PNP is a mechanism that facilitates economic immigration to Canada. As such, the PNP has four main objectives (PNP logic model, 2009):

  • To increase the economic benefits of immigration to PTs, based on their economic priorities and labour market conditions;
  • To distribute the benefits of immigration across all PTsFootnote 2;
  • To enhance Federal-Provincial/Territorial (FPT) collaboration; and
  • To encourage development of official language minority communities.

While the PNP was initially exclusively on attracting skilled workers to contribute to the provinces’ economic objectives, many PTs have incorporated additional objectives, such as regional development and population growth, into their PN programs over time. The PNP operates under individual agreements between the federal government and each PT government.

At the PT level, PNP is managed by each PT’s department or ministry of labour, education or immigration. Individual PN program streams are defined by the application of unique criteria, such as targeting specific occupational sectors, different requirements regarding job offers, and different requirements around work experience or language ability. By this definition, there are over 50 PN program streams currently operating in the 11 jurisdictions. Moreover, as each PT’s labour market and/or population needs change over time, so do their available streams of PNP.

For the purposes of analyzing the evaluation evidence, the various iterations of PN programs operating across the 11 PTs are categorized into seven streams: Skilled Worker; Semi-Skilled Worker; Business; International Student Graduate; Family Connection; Community-Sponsored; and Strategic Recruitment.

Scope and limitations

  • Given that this is a federal evaluation, specific PT PN programs were not evaluated. External factors are different in each PT, as are labour market needs. Thus, results must be considered in the appropriate contextFootnote 3.
  • The evaluation focuses on principal applicants and does not cover spouses and dependants.

The limitations presented below should be considered when reviewing the evaluation results.

  • Given the nature of the population and program under study, finding an appropriate population and program against which to compare is difficult.
  • Information by PT stream is only collected by PTs, and not in a consistent manner across PTs, limiting the evaluation’s ability to present a comprehensive picture of PNs by stream.
  • There are several data sources and periods covered for PN outcome information, which means that outcomes, such as incidence of employment, and earnings, are reported using a variety of measures.
  • There may be biases in the PN survey due to location and language ability of respondents.
  • Employer and focus group respondents were not selected randomly.

Main findings

The main findings associated with the evaluation are presented below.

Findings – relevance

  • All stakeholder groups consulted for the evaluation reported a continuing need for the program.
  • The program is aligned with the CIC strategic outcome related to the benefits of migration on Canada’s economic development and the broader Federal Government priority related to regional development.
  • The federal government has a role in both the policy and operational aspects of the PNP. This role is felt to be appropriate by key informants.
  • While the PT PNP streams share similar themes and objectives with several federal economic immigration programs, they also include several distinct elements that allow the program to directly address PT-specific needs.

Findings – performance

How the program is meeting PT needs
  • According to PT interviewees, PNP is addressing PT local and regional labour market needs (including filling specific skill shortages), attracting investment, and contributing to population growth.
  • Only one Province has a formal labour market strategy that directly links labour market shortages to immigration and, ultimately, to their PN program. Most PTs rely on consultations with stakeholders and more general labour market or planning documents. Therefore, this makes it hard to assess to what extent admitted PNs actually meet PT needs.
Economic outcomes
  • The vast majority of PNs are becoming established economically, reporting employment or self-employment earnings each year, by years since landing (2000-2008 cohorts). Very few access employment insurance and/or social assistance benefits.
  • Majority of PNs have jobs at a skill level equivalent to their intended occupation.
  • Economic establishment varies by province of nomination, with PNs in the Atlantic provinces showing lower economic outcomes. Economic establishment also varies by stream, with the skilled and semi-skilled workers being the most successful, by incidence of employment, at establishing economically.
  • PNs establish economically earlier than immigrants in other federal economic programs (FSW, Business Immigrants), reporting higher incidence of employment/self-employment earnings and higher earnings in the first year after landing.
  • Though PNs continue to maintain a slightly higher rate of reported employment/self-employment earnings each year after landing, at the national level average FSW earnings surpass those of PNs by the fifth year after landing.
  • PNP has been successful in distributing a larger proportion of economic immigrants outside Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia compared to other economic immigration programs.
  • The majority of PNs (82%) who became permanent residents between 2000 and 2008 and who filed an income tax return in 2008 were residing in their province of nomination. Retention rates vary by PT, with the lowest rates in the Atlantic region (56%) and the highest in Alberta and British Columbia (above 95%).
Program integrity
  • Monitoring and evaluation of PT PNPs has been inconsistent over time and varies in method across PTs.
  • There has been no systematic collection and reporting of common program performance information.
  • CIC and PTs acknowledge a continued need for strong emphasis on program integrity.
Effectiveness of FPT relations
  • Respondents expressed a wide range of opinions regarding the clarity of roles and responsibilities for the delivery of PNP. Assessing the ability to establish economically and fraud verification were areas posing particular challenges.
Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs)
  • There was a limited focus on the federal objective of encouraging the development of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs), with only three PTs identifying it as a priority for their PNPs.
Efficiency and economy
  • Resources are invested in the PNP both at the federal and PT level. Resources invested by the PT vary given the magnitude of their respective programs.


The conclusions of the evaluation are presented below.

  • There is a continuing need for the PNP and the program is consistent with CIC and Federal Government priorities. Roles and responsibilities of the federal government were also found to be appropriate.
  • While some PT PN program objectives and streams share similar themes with other federal economic programs, the operations of these programs include additional elements that allow the PNP to respond to the unique needs of PTs.
  • A majority of PNs become economically established quickly, particularly those with knowledge of an official language, though this is less likely for those in the business stream. As such, the PNP is meeting the objective of increasing the economic benefits of immigration to PTs.
  • The PNP has been successful with respect to the objective of regionalizing the benefits of immigration.
  • With respect to FPT collaboration, while roles and responsibilities in the PNP were generally clear and well-understood among all partners, several program delivery areas posed particular challenges. As well, there is a continued need for strong emphasis on program integrity as it pertains to fraud and misrepresentation. Finally, monitoring and evaluation of PT PNPs has been varied over time among PTs and inconsistently shared with CIC.
  • There has been a limited progress toward the federal objective of encouraging the development of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs), with only three PTs identifying it as a priority for their PNPs.
  • The evaluation showed limited information was available to assess the efficiency and economy of the program.


The recommendations associated with the evaluation are presented below.

  1. CIC should work with PTs to develop a requirement for minimum standards across PT programs regarding language ability.

    Establishing minimum language requirements is supported by the fact that language is one of the key determinants of economic establishment. In addition, as a portion of PNs move across PTs, having a minimum language requirement could aid in economic establishment in the new provinces, especially since these individuals were not selected based on the needs of the PT they were moving to.

  2. In order to strengthen linkages between the occupational profile of PNs and PT labour market/economic needs, CIC should work with PTs to enable more effective, evidence-based identification of their needs for PNs.

    Formalized, evidence-based labour market strategies could assist in the identification of labour shortages, and also be used to assess how PNP addresses these needs.

  3. CIC should clarify the roles and responsibilities of the CVOAs and PTs.

    Specific areas where clarity is necessary are:

    1. the assessment of PNP applicants’ ability to establish economically, and
    2. fraud detection.

    Additional training and/or guidance should be provided regarding how these functions should be interpreted and applied by each partner during the assessment of applications. Clarification and additional guidance and/or training in these areas would be beneficial and could potentially decrease duplication and the level of effort required for these activities, as well as contribute to more effective fraud verification.

  4. CIC should work with PTs to strengthen the focus on the PNP objective of encouraging the development of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).

    Given the limited success in meeting this objective the department should review how to best incorporate it into the program design and delivery.

  5. CIC, in collaboration with PTs, should develop and implement a monitoring and reporting framework that contains common, agreed-upon performance indicators.

    The department should define baseline data, establish consistent performance measures, determine a reporting schedule, and allocate responsibility within and across PTs.

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