Ontario needs a regional immigration strategy, new report suggests

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TORONTO — A new report is urging the provincial and local governments in Ontario to do more to attract immigrants to regions other than the Greater Toronto Area.

The Conference Board of Canada says 77 per cent of newcomers to the province currently settle in the GTA, both providing an economic boon and putting pressure on local infrastructure and social supports.

In 2018 it says the area welcomed 106,000 immigrants, more than seven other Canadian provinces combined.

The board says the rest of the province could benefit from increased immigration and lays out five recommendations to help make it happen.

The report says the provincial government should refine the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, the channel through which immigrants and international students can apply for permanent residency.

Other recommendations include a provincial immigration strategy, efforts to encourage municipalities to market themselves as desirable destinations for immigrants, and public awareness and education on the issue.