“Size Matters: Attracting Immigrants to Canadian Cities”

Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have attracted most new immigrants to Canada. Small and medium-sized cities in Canada are keen to share the wealth that new immigrants represent, and federal and provincial governments support a more even distribution of settlement. As a result, the idea of attracting new immigrants to smaller locations is a pressing policy issue. This research weighs the characteristics of place that new immigrants consider on arrival. It uses findings from the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (Statistics Canada, 2003) to construct an index that ranks five medium-sized cities in British Columbia in terms of their potential attractiveness to new immigrants. The index created proves robust and reliable from a statistical viewpoint. The study confirms that immigrants are attracted to cities where friends and family or other immigrants live. Moreover, the increase in attractiveness of a city is primarily related to its size. The index is an indicator of the role that population and the extant number of immigrants in situ plays in determining the appeal of smaller cities. From a policy perspective, if governments wish to spread the wealth associated with immigration and an expanded labour force, a proactive policy stance that enumerates and communicates the appeal of less prominent communities is vital. This is an important finding, and we offer policy options that account for the relationship of population size to immigrant retention. en

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