Canada’s Decentralised Immigration Policy Through a Local Lens: How Small Communities Are Attracting and Welcoming Immigrants

Immigrant attraction to small communities is a growing reality in Canada as a result of the recent regionalisation, “marketisation” and decentralisation of immigration policy. These changes have increased the influence of local actors – municipalities, employers, and community members – in the immigrant attraction and welcoming process. This research report sets out to understand the drivers of small-community immigrant attraction, the challenges that result, and the existing responses of local actors to these challenges. To this end, six small communities are selected for case-study analysis using a quantitative method applied to the 2006 Canadian Census. Interviews with local municipal staff, employers and community actors are conducted within each case-study community. Drawing on the findings, a typology is developed which describes and contrasts five key immigrant attraction dynamics. A key finding is that while governments at all levels create policy that facilitates regional immigration, the private sector is most often the operative actor.