If Ontario’s proposed new immigration system gets the green light, it will abolish the current model of racing seats.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) recently presented a proposal to transform some of its programs into an Expression of Interest (EOI) system. The new system would use scoring criteria to target candidates best suited to meet the needs of the province’s labor market.
Currently, PNPs in Ontario that is not aligned with Express Entry is working on a first-come, first-served system. Registration opens until all available seats are filled, which can take just 25 minutes. In the past, the OINP would notify people of the date of the registration window, and hopeful applicants would have to have multiple browsers open on multiple computers to access the system. Technical difficulties would arise, which would mean that the OINP would have to have a contingency plan for people who lost their places due to circumstances beyond their control.
An OINP representative said that an EOI system would allow them to “manage enrollments and the high demand for the program, avoiding the uncertainty associated with flow openings and the current ‘first come, first served’ model.
Ontario was the most popular destination in 2019 for immigrants. Its PNP alone welcomed 13,731 immigrants to Ontario last year, or 7,391 principal applicants and their families. Just over half of these applicants have gone through the categories related to Express Entry, but the remaining 49 percent have gone through the core streams that do not yet have an EOI template.
Here are the immigration categories that Ontario is considering creating an EOI system for:
- Employer Job Offer Category (Foreign Worker, International Student, and In-demand skills stream);
- Masters Graduate; and
- Ph.D. Graduate
The EOI system only applies to workers seeking permanent residence and would not affect the ability of Canadian employers to recruit temporary foreign workers.
This would allow the OINP to conduct either a general draw or a targeted draw of certain registrants. OINP already does this through its Human Capital Priorities stream aligned with Express Entry. The goal is to enable OINP to meet the needs of the province’s labor market by filling labor market gaps with foreign talent. The OINP notes that existing measures remain in place to ensure that Canadians still have the opportunity to apply for available jobs.
Potential applicants would receive a score based on their EOI profile. Points would be awarded based on various factors such as education and language skills. Ontario would then send out invitations to the highest-rated candidates to apply for provincial nomination.
The OINP also states that an EOI system would allow the province to “manage admission to the OINP to prioritize the most suitable applicants.”
Many provinces already have an EOI system to manage immigration applications, including Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. The federal government’s express entry system also uses a points system to invite immigrants and has been hailed by the OECD as a “model” for immigration systems in other countries.
The public is available to submit comments on the proposed new system until October 23. The OINP intends to launch its EOI system in early 2021.