Canada’s Prairie Provinces vs Coastal Provinces

When considering immigrating to Canada, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of different regions. One of the most common considerations for newcomers to Canada is choosing whether to settle in Canada’s Prairie or Coastal Provinces.

Besides looking into whether you enjoy open prairies or picturesque landscapes, there are other factors to explore before you make your choice.

Gauge which region in Canada is more suitable to your preferences by discovering more about Canada’s Prairie and Coastal Provinces!

Canada’s Prairie Provinces

canada's prairie provinces

Located in the west of Central Canada, the topography of Canada’s prairie provinces is a flat, mostly dry region, rich in energy resources and possessing some of the world’s most fertile and agriculturally productive farmland. The region's most prominent cities are Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon, home to many large immigrant communities consisting of Filipinos, South Asians, Chinese, Southeast Asians, Koreans, Japanese, Arabic and Latin Americans. Canada’s list of Prairie provinces includes:

  • Alberta,
  • Saskatchewan, and
  • Manitoba.

In-demand Occupations in Canada’s Prairie Provinces

The economy of Canada’s prairies provinces is largely shaped by the region's natural resources, which in turn is reflected in the labor market dynamics of the region.

Alberta’s In-demand Occupations

Alberta is the largest producer of oil and gas in Canada. The oil sands in the north of the province are in development as a major energy source. Alberta is also renowned for agriculture, with vast cattle ranches that make the province one of the world’s major beef producers.

With National Occupational Classification (NOC) system codes, Alberta’s in-demand jobs include:

  • Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics (NOC 72401) ,
  • Farm and Harvesting Workers (NOC 85101),
  • Construction Millwrights and Industrial Mechanics (NOC 72400), and
  • General Farm Workers (NOC 85100).

Find out more about in-demand occupations in Alberta.

Saskatchewan’s In-demand Occupations

Saskatchewan, generally considered one of the “breadbaskets of the world” and Canada’s “wheat province,” has 40% of the country’s arable land. It is Canada’s largest producer of grains and oilseeds. Saskatchewan also has the world’s richest deposits of uranium and potash. It is also a prolific producer of fertilizer, oil, and natural gas.

Consequently, mining jobs play a crucial role in Saskatchewan’s labor market, with over 30,000 workers according to Therefore the most in-demand jobs in the province include:

  • Miner (NOC 83100),
  • Mining Engineers (NOC 21330),
  • Oil and Gas Well Drillers (NOC 83101), and
  • Mechanical Engineers (NOC 21301).

Learn more about in-demand occupations in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba’s In-demand occupations

Manitoba’s economy is dominated by agriculture, hydroelectric power generation, and mining. These three industries have a great influence on the in-demand occupations in Manitoba, with job offers mainly for:

  • Agricultural Managers (NOC 80020),
  • Industrial Electricians (NOC 72201),
  • Construction Trades Helpers and Labourers (NOC 75110), and
  • Biological technologists and technicians (NOC 22110).

Find out more about in-demand occupations in Manitoba.

Life in Canada’s Prairie Provinces

The Prairie Provinces boast a unique blend of urban amenities and natural beauty, providing residents with a high quality of life.

Life in Alberta

Alberta has a dynamic lifestyle with vibrant cities like Calgary and Edmonton. Residents can enjoy cultural events, outdoor activities, and a strong sense of community. Main attractions in Alberta include:

  • Lake Louise in the Rocky Mountains,
  • Athabasca Falls,
  • Badlands plateau, and
  • Lake Minnewanka.

Find out more about life in Alberta.

Life in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan has a laid-back atmosphere and affordable housing, making it an attractive choice for newcomers looking for a balanced lifestyle. Saskatchewan’s major cities include Saskatoon and Regina. The capital, Regina, hosts the training academy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The largest city in the province is Saskatoon, home to the headquarters of the largest mining companies in the prairies.

Learn more about life in Saskatchewan.

Life in Manitoba

Manitoba is famous for its friendly locals and diverse cultural scene, providing a welcoming environment for newcomers to the province. The most populous city in the province is Winnipeg. Western Canada’s largest Francophone community of 45,000 residents live in St. Boniface, Winnipeg’s French Quarter.

Manitoba is a major center of Ukrainian culture in Canada, with 14% of residents reporting Ukrainian descent. Manitoba also has the largest population of indigenous Canadians, with over 15% share of the population.

Find out more about life in Manitoba.

Pros and Cons of Canada’s Prairie Provinces

Pros Cons
Abundant flat, arable land Flat topography is susceptible to tornadoes
Comparatively sparsely populated urban areas with affordable real estate prices Large regions of uninhabited land can cause social connectivity, access and transportation issues 
Extensive entrepreneurial opportunities in primary, resource extraction and agricultural communities  Situated in the interior, the region has restricted or delayed access to trade, commerce, and capital flows from Canada's coastal regions
Broad labor market with job opportunities in a range of agricultural, mining, healthcare, manufacturing and information technology Employment opportunities still largely dependent on non-renewable, limited resource extraction industries
Large cities such as Saskatoon, Calgary, and Winnipeg combine the benefits of big-city amenities, events, and infrastructure with the relaxed social rhythms of small-town life Outside of the largest cities, there are very limited economic opportunities in the prairie small towns'

How Can I Move to Canada’s Prairie Provinces?

For individuals looking to move permanently to Canada's Prairie Provinces, the government of Canada offers several immigration programs for permanent residency.

Provincial Nominee Programs for Canada’s Prairie Provinces

The provincial governments of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan facilitate the nomination of skilled workers, international graduates, and entrepreneurs for Canadian permanent residency via Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). PNPs you can use to move to Canada’s Prairie provinces include:

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot for Canada’s Prairie Provinces

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) addresses labor market needs in specific rural communities across Canada, including those in the Prairie Provinces. Eligible communities in Canada’s prairie provinces you can move to via the RNIP include:

  • Brandon, Manitoba,
  • Altona/Rhineland, Manitoba
  • Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and
  • Claresholm, Alberta.

Find out more about Canada’s RNIP.

Agri-food Pilot for Canada’s Prairie Provinces

As the most agriculturally fertile region in the country, using the Agri-food Pilot is one of the most suitable ways to move to Canada’s prairie provinces. The Agri-food Pilot is designed to address labor shortages in Canada’s agri-food sector by attracting experienced foreign workers who can contribute to the growth of Canada's agricultural industry.

Learn more about the Agri-food Pilot.

Canada’s Coastal Provinces

canada's coastal provinces

Canada’s coastal regions consist largely of a set of rugged islands and coastlines rich in natural resources, with many communities subsisting on primary economic activities such as fishing, farming, forestry, whaling, and mining. Except for Vancouver, the region’s cities are generally mid-sized, with the most prominent being Halifax, St. Johns, Moncton, and Fredericton.

Due to their positions on Canada’s coast, Coastal Canada’s demographics are largely descended from the British Islands, with sizable communities of Icelandic, indigenous, German, Dutch, Polish, Hungarian, and Italian people. According to Discover Canada, coastal provinces in the country include:

  • Nova Scotia,
  • New Brunswick,
  • Newfoundland and Labrador,
  • Prince Edward Island, and
  • British Columbia.

In-demand Occupations in Canada’s Coastal Provinces

Canada's Coastal Provinces, in contrast to Canada’s prairie provinces, showcase a much more diverse range of economic activities. This broadens the pool of foreign labor eligible to apply to move to and take advantage of the job opportunities in the region.

British Columbia In-Demand Occupations

British Columbia is renowned for its tech industry and natural beauty, offering job opportunities in software development, healthcare, and sustainable energy. Occupations in high demand in British Columbia include:

  • Foresters (NOC 21111),
  • Specialists in Surgery (NOC 31101),
  • Software Engineers and Designers (NOC 21231), and
  • Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses (NOC 31301).

Find out more about the in-demand occupations in British Columbia.

Newfoundland and Labrador In-Demand Occupations

Newfoundland and Labrador, with a strong focus on mining and natural resources, seeks skilled workers in engineering, ocean technology, and environmental sciences. The most in-demand occupations in Newfoundland and Labrador include:

  • Farming and Feeding Manager (NOC 80020),
  • Mechanical Engineers (NOC 21301),
  • Ocean Mapping Specialist (NOC 21102), and
  • Facility Technician (NOC 73201).

Find out more about in-demand occupations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nova Scotia In-Demand Occupations

Nova Scotia, known for its maritime heritage and growing economy, presents openings in tourism, seafood processing, and renewable energy. The most in-demand occupations in Nova Scotia include:

  • Construction Trades Helpers and Laborers (NOC 75110),
  • Fish and Seafood Plant Workers (NOC 94142),
  • Heavy Equipment Operators, (NOC 73400) and,
  • Boat Assemblers and Inspectors (NOC 94219) .

Learn more about in-demand occupations in Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island In-demand Occupations

Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is the smallest Coastal province and Canada overall. Aquaculture and agriculture play an important role in the economy of the province. Therefore, the most in-demand jobs in the province include:

  • Fish and seafood plant workers (NOC 94142),
  • Industrial Butchers (NOC 94141),
  • Machinists (NOC 72100), and
  • Delivery Workers (NOC 75201).

Find out more about in-demand occupations in Prince Edward Island.

New Brunswick in-demand Occupations

Forestry, agriculture, fisheries, mining, food processing, and tourism are the principal industries in New Brunswick. Consequently, high-demand occupations in the province include:

  • Food Processing Machine Operators (NOC 95106),
  • Silviculture and Forestry Worker (NOC 84111),
  • Sawmill Machine Operators (NOC 94120), and
  • Fish and Seafood Plant Workers (NOC 94142).

Find out more about in-demand occupations in New Brunswick.

Life in Canada’s Coastal Provinces

The Coastal Provinces of Canada provide residents with a captivating blend of coastal living and urban amenities, creating a unique lifestyle experience.

Life in British Columbia

British Columbia's (B.C) stunning landscapes, mild climate, and multicultural cities like Vancouver offer a vibrant and diverse lifestyle for its residents. British Columbia is the most populous Canadian coastal province, with over 4 million people. The province has the most extensive park system in Canada, with around 600 provincial parks.

British Columbia has some of the largest Asian communities in Canada, with Mandarin and Punjabi being the most spoken languages in B.Cs cities after English. Victoria, the capital, is a center of tourism and hosts the headquarters of Canada’s Pacific naval fleet.

Learn more about life in British Columbia.

Life in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador's rich cultural heritage, friendly communities, and breathtaking coastal scenery make it an attractive choice for newcomers seeking a close-knit and scenic lifestyle.

The most easterly point in North America and the oldest colony of the British Empire, the culture and economy in the province are shaped by fisheries and its many coastal fishing villages.

Find out more about life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Life in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia's coastal charm, historic towns, and thriving arts and culture scene provide a welcoming environment for newcomers. The most populous Atlantic Province, Nova Scotia's rich history is characterized by its reputation as the gateway to Canada. Halifax, the capital, plays an important role in Canada’s Atlantic trade and defense and hosts Canada’s largest naval base.

The province’s Celtic and Gaelic traditions offer a unique and vibrant cultural experience for newcomers. Home to over 700 annual festivals, including the spectacular military tattoo in Halifax, you will never run out of things to do in Nova Scotia!

Learn more about life in Nova Scotia.

Life in New Brunswick

Saint John is the largest city, port, and manufacturing center in New Brunswick. Moncton is the center of the province’s Francophone Acadian community and Fredericton is the capital and home to many of the province's historic relics and landmarks.

New Brunswick’s multiculturalism community is reflected in its distinction as the only officially bilingual province, with one-third of the population living and working in French. New Brunswick pioneer Loyalist and French cultural heritage is reflected in its many street festivals and traditional music.

Find out more about life in New Brunswick.

Life in Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is the birthplace of the Canadian Confederation. Prince Edward Island is the least populated province in Canada and consequently, life in the province is characterized by a relaxed pace with close, interdependent communities.

The province is famously connected to mainland Canada by one of the longest multi-span bridges in the world, the Confederation Bridge.

Learn more about life in Prince Edward Island.

Pros and Cons of Canada’s Coastal Province

Pros Cons
Coastal topography is filled with many marine resources Region has rugged islands with limited arable, fertile land
Mid-sized cities provide the perfect blend of small-town living with big-city social and economic opportunities No large cities (more than 500,00 people) can limit the number of social and economic opportunities  
Extensive entrepreneurial opportunities in maritime and related occupations  Employment opportunities are predominant in natural resource extraction (lumber, fishing) and processing industries
Smaller labor pool (especially in Atlantic coastal Canada) than Canada's prairie provinces allow for broader and more in-demand employment opportunities Less extensive range of industries compared to Canada's prairie provinces limit the variety of the region's labor pool
Long and varied coastal with many beaches for relaxation n Has many isolated fishing communities that may lack access to valuable services and infrastructure

How Can I Get Canadian PR in Canada’s Coastal Provinces?

Provincial Nominee Programs for Canada’s Coastal Provinces

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) aim to address specific labor market needs and attract skilled workers, business investors, and international graduates to contribute to the Canadian provinces' growth and development. Eligible PNPs that you can use to move to Canada’s Coastal provinces include:

Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) for Canada’s Coastal Provinces

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) focuses on addressing labor market gaps in Atlantic Canada, which includes:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador,
  • Nova Scotia,
  • Prince Edward Island, and
  • New Brunswick.

This innovative program connects employers with skilled foreign workers and international graduates, leading to permanent residency in the participating provinces.

Find out more about the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

Agri-food Pilot for Canada’s Coastal Provinces

The coastal provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Labrador have prominent agricultural communities, making the Agri-food Pilot a suitable way to move to those provinces.

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot for Canada’s Coastal Provinces

You can move to the communities of Vernon, British Columbia, and West Kootenay, British Columbia using the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

What Can I Do If I Can’t Permanently Move to Canada’s Prairie or Coastal Provinces

what can I do if i can't apply for permanent residency in canada's coastal or prairie provinces

Canada’s federal government, via IRCC, enables individuals who cannot make a permanent move to Canada's Prairie or Coastal Provinces to apply for and obtain a Canada work permit.

Canada Work Permit

A Canada work permit presents an alternative option to gain valuable work experience in Canada and subsequently receive Canadian permanent residency (PR). A Canada work permit enables foreigners to work for a specified employer in Canada temporarily and gain hands-on experience they can use to permanently move to the country via programs like the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

With a better understanding of Canada’s coastal or prairie provinces, you can now begin the process of weighing your choice of which Canadian region you want to settle in.


What is the Climate Like in Canada's Prairie Provinces?

The Prairie Provinces experience a continental climate, characterized by hot summers and cold winters. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have distinct seasonal variations, with warm temperatures in the summer and cold, snowy conditions in the winter.

What is the Climate like in Canada's Coastal Provinces?

The Coastal Provinces have a range of climates, influenced by their proximity to the ocean and geographic features. British Columbia's coastal regions enjoy mild, temperate climates, while Newfoundland and Labrador experience cooler maritime climates with significant precipitation. Nova Scotia's climate features a mix of continental and maritime influences, creating diverse weather patterns across the province.