ARCHIVED – Backgrounder — Provincial Nominee Program Evaluation Highlights

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)’s national evaluation of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) examined the program’s relevance and performance, focusing on the economic outcomes and mobility of provincial nominees (PNs). The evaluation looked at PNs admitted between 2005 and 2009. In addition, parts of the evaluation used data from the Longitudinal Immigration Database, which considered nominees arriving between 2000 and 2008.

The evaluation assessed program relevance in terms of continued need, alignment with government objectives and priorities, and consistency with respect to federal roles and responsibilities. Program performance was assessed by examining results in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and economy.


As this was a federal evaluation, the scope was limited to assessing the PNP from a national perspective. Specific PNPs were not evaluated as the provinces and territories (PTs) are expected to conduct regular assessments of their own PNPs. In addition, the evaluation focused on principal applicants and did not cover spouses and dependants.


The comprehensive evaluation included stakeholder interviews, focus groups with PNs, visa office surveys, document and literature review, and statistical analyses of two federal government databases.

Strong Economic Outcomes

The evaluation found that by and large, PNs are becoming economically established. After one year in Canada, 90% or more of PNs declared employment or self-employment earnings. PNs also make very low use of employment insurance benefits: only 6% to 11% of PNs used these benefits in the first year after landing. Three years after landing in Canada, average employment earnings for PNs (between $35,200 and $45,100) are slightly higher than Federal Skilled Workers (between $36,400 and $42,700). The report found that PNs who reported knowing an official language upon arrival were more likely to report employment earnings. Although results varied by stream and location, overall about 70% of the PNs surveyed held a job commensurate with their skills.

Spreading the Benefits of Immigration

The evaluation confirmed that the PNP is spreading the number of economic immigrants across Canada unlike other economic immigration programs, through which immigrants tend to settle in the major centres of a few PTs. Between 2005 and 2009, 64% of PNs who arrived in Canada were destined to provinces and territories other than Ontario, British Columbia or Alberta. Retention rates vary, however, from 23% to 95% depending on the province. Overall, 82% of PNs who arrived in Canada between 2000 and 2008 continued to reside in their province or territory of nomination.

High Perceived Need for the Program

The majority of respondents in all interview categories (including CIC, PTs, stakeholder and employer representatives) stated that there is a continuing need for the PNP. Interviewees from 10 provinces and territories indicated that labour market needs were being addressed by the PNP, and the majority noted that skill shortages were being addressed by the program. All 67 employers interviewed declared using the PNP as a result of difficulties in hiring locally or nationally. Nevertheless, the evaluation recommends that there be stronger links between PN occupational profiles and PT economic needs through the use of formalized labour market strategies.

Recommendations for Improvement

While the evaluation is positive overall and recognizes a continuing need for the PNP, it made the following recommendations to improve the program:

  1. CIC should work with PTs to develop a requirement for minimum language standards across PT programs as language is one of the key determinants of economic establishment.
  2. In order to strengthen the links between the occupational profile of PNs and PT labour market or economic needs, CIC should work with PTs to enable more effective, evidence-based identification of their needs for PNs.
  3. CIC should clarify the roles and responsibilities of the PTs and Canadian visa offices abroad in delivering certain elements of the program, including fraud detection.
  4. CIC should work with PTs to strengthen the focus on the PNP objective of encouraging the development of official language minority communities.
  5. CIC should work with PTs to develop and implement a monitoring and reporting framework that contains common, agreed-upon performance indicators.

Moving Forward

CIC agrees with the evaluation’s recommendations as they represent concrete and practical ways to improve the overall functioning of what is now the second largest economic immigration program. During the June 2010 federal/provincial/territorial ministers’ meeting, all parties agreed to continue working together on ways to improve Canada’s immigration system and maximize immigrant participation in the Canadian economy and society.

In 2012, CIC will work with PTs to move forward on minimum language standards for PNs and on joint measures to strengthen program integrity and service delivery. As immigration is a shared responsibility, the Government of Canada will continue to partner with the provinces and territories in order to make the PNP a success.


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