Wage Discrepancy Between Federal Program and Provincial Nominees


PhD candidate Haimin Zhang at the University of British Colombia unearthed a significant wage discrepancy between migrants who entered Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Program and successful applicants to the BC Provincial Nomination Program (BCPNP).

Under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, candidates are assessed by a points system on factors such as education, language skills, and other measures that gauge their ability to economically establish themselves in Canada.  Additionally, approved candidates, who then attain permanent residency, must also have had at least one year of paid work experience within the last decade in one of Canada’s 29 desired occupations or an existing employment arrangement in Canada. 

The BC PNP works differently, mandating that applicants have a Canadian offer of employment in hand as a prerequisite to their acceptance into the program. This aims to accelerate the advent of skilled labour into provincial borders to address gaps in the province’s short-term demands.

Zhang used tax records from Statistics Canada to juxtapose migrant earnings from the two programs—revealing that the mean wage of BC Provincial Nominees is three times in excess of earnings accrued by skilled workers from the federal program.

The study narrows possible drivers that fuel this discrepancy, all of which hasten the ability of provincial nominees to economically establish themselves in British Colombia.  Almost 70 percent of BC Provincial Nominees, according to figures from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, have had previous work experience or educational credentials from Canada, in comparison with less than one-fifth of migrants from the federal system. Further, Zhang proposes that the mandate of an arranged employment became a mitigating factor against negative labour market shocks. Finally, she postulates that the Federal Skilled Worker’s backlog and long processing times may have acted as disincentives for the most skilled workers, who instead elect the Provincial Nomination Program.

Although Zhang’s methodology and data have been criticized as ‘potentially flawed’, since immigrants often neglect to account for the totality of their earnings in tax record and since the Federal Program only comprises a limited number of occupations,  she hopes that her study will inspire others to assess the wage discrepancy with more rigorous tools and comprehensive statistics.

Contact FWCanada for a free eligibility assessment if you believe your qualifications meet either of these programs. 

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