Canada Needs Skilled Workers to Settle in Prince Edward Island's Rural Areas

Candidates settling in rural areas will be able to jump the queue for Prince Edward Island immigration in new provincial government plans.   

Four new advisory councils will advise P.E.I. immigration officials on specific needs in the province’s rural communities.  

Information will be passed to immigration agents based abroad, who will then look to recruit candidates with the right skill sets. 

Currently, new immigrants are concentrated in provincial capital Charlottetown, accounting for a population surge of more than 13,000 in Queens County in the last decade. Over the same period, the populations of the more rural Kings County and Prince Country have both shrunk.

Exactly how P.E.I.’s Provincial Nomination Program will change is in the pipeline, with Sonny Gallant, the Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister, saying the modifications are ‘still in the development stage’. 

The advisory councils are expected to provide hyper-local information on the labour force needs of businesses, allowing immigration to be tailored accordingly. 

P.E.I.’s cabinet has already appointed business and community leaders to the councils, who will provide feedback over the course of the summer.

Minister Gallant said: “Up to this point, there just hasn’t been a great push to bring immigrants to rural P.E.I. Most of them are going to Charlottetown.”

He also outlined the specific roles of the members of the councils.

“They’ll be out there seeing the needs in their communities,” Gallant said. “They can tell us about the potential of a new business start-up or someone buying a business in their community, which would create some new employment and bring people to rural P.E.I.”

P.E.I. is already seeing some success in turning around its aging population. 

Canada’s smallest province boosted its population of under 45-year-olds to 76,516 in 2016, greater than 2013 levels and significantly more than 2015 numbers. 

It is one of only two Atlantic provinces (the other being Nova Scotia), to have a greater 2016 population of under-45s than 2015, as immigration policies aimed at countering its aging population and shrinking labour force start to take hold. 

The University of Prince Edward Island announced recently it is increasing its international student recruitment efforts following significant success in growing its cohort from overseas.

With numbers of Canadian-born undergraduates dropping off in recent years, the school now relies on students from abroad to drive growth in enrollment numbers.

A key tool for P.E.I. to bring in more economic immigrants is the employer-driven Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

The program, operated by the federal government in partnership with the four Atlantic Provinces, aims to bring in 2,000 extra-economic immigrants per year to the region. 

It has three streams – for high-skilled and intermediate-skilled workers, plus international graduates.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot: The Programs

  • Atlantic-High Skilled Program
  • Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program
  • Atlantic International Graduate Program

The work experience, education, and job offer a candidate needs will depend on whether they are applying as a skilled worker or an international student graduate. The remaining requirements are the same for both.    

Work Experience


The candidate must have worked for at least one year (a total of 1,560 hours total or 30 hours per week) within the last three years. It can be full-time, non-continuous, or part-time, as long as it adds up to 1,560 hours.  

The work must be:

  • In one occupation (but can be with different employers)
  • Paid (volunteering or unpaid internship do not count)
  • Under the Atlantic High-Skilled Program, workers need one year of experience at skill type/level o, A, or B.
  • Under the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program, workers need one year of experience to be at level C.
  • Work experience can be one that was gained inside or outside Canada 

International Graduates

Candidates do not need work experience



Candidates must have:

  • A Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree,
  • A foreign degree, diploma, certificate, or trade or apprenticeship education credential. Candidates need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to make sure it is valid and equal to a Canadian credential. The ECA must show your education is equal to a completed Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree. Your ECA must be less than five years old when you apply.   

International Graduates

Candidates must have:

  • A minimum two-year degree, diploma, certificate, or trade or apprenticeship credential from a recognized publicly-funded institution in an Atlantic province.
  • Been a full-time student in Canada for at least two years.
  • Graduated in the 12 months prior to the application date.
  • Lived in one of the Atlantic Provinces for at least 16 months in the last two years before graduation.
  • Had a visa or permit to work, study, or train in Canada. 

A candidate does not qualify if their field of study or training included:

  • English or French second language courses for more than half of the program.
  • Distance learning is undertaken for more than half of the program.

A candidate may not apply if their scholarship or fellowship required them to return to their home country after graduation. 

Note: Atlantic Immigration Pilot candidates are able to apply for a temporary work permit if the job needs to be filled urgently. If an employer wants a candidate to apply for a temporary work permit first, the candidate will need to commit to applying for permanent residence within 90 days of the temporary application being submitted.