Under Canada’s constitution, immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that provinces began to advocate for their voice in immigrant selection.
And the provincial role in immigrant selection has been steadily growing since.
In 2022, Alberta updated its strategy, called the Alberta Advantage Immigration Strategy, which centres on a core vision to:
“Achiev[e] greater economic opportunity for all Albertans by attracting newcomers to Alberta in response to provincial labour market needs, and suppor[t] newcomers in reaching their full potential in our province.”
In this paper, we explore the role of the provinces in immigrant selection; explain how Alberta’s provincial nomination program (or the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program) works; and discuss our observations of the program’s success so far.
Between 2024 and 2026 Canada is expected to welcome 1.5 million new residents, as part of the federal government’s goal to increase immigration targets. The stated purpose of this increase is economic: newcomers will fill labour shortages to grow the economy and help support an aging population.
With the federal government’s new targets, immigration will account for nearly all of Canada’s population growth and all the workforce growth between now and 2036. That means that almost 30% of the population and 37% of the workforce will be immigrants.
While immigration will certainly help make Canada’s economy bigger, it will not necessarily or automatically make Canadians wealthier. Projections show that while Canada is expected to see very tepid economic growth, it will lag in economic growth per capita. And with additional cracks in the system, urgent changes are needed to ensure immigration remains a source of strength and growth for Canada.
Explore more in our Prosperity-Driven Immigration for Canada project here.