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New Tool in Development to Help Immigrants Decide Where to Settle in Canada

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In 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal government department in charge of immigration, began a partnership with Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) to research settlement patterns in Canada. Their research project may soon come to fruition in the form of a tool tentatively named GeoMatch. Researchers looked at an existing algorithm that aids in resettlement and hope to repurpose it to find possible destinations in Canada for immigrants. The algorithm uses historical data to pinpoint an area where a person may settle successfully.

According to Statistics Canada, more than half of all immigrants to Canada settle in major urban centres, specifically Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Though many are able to find work and settle, other parts of Canada can also offer opportunities to new immigrants, opportunities that may not be available in larger areas. One major hurdle is that word of mouth plays a large part in some immigrants’ choice of Canadian destination. With GeoMatch, destinations throughout Canada are considered according to each individual’s characteristics, such as work experience, education, and even preferred region. Through its machine learning capabilities, the tool can offer its predictions for success based on the data unique to each user.

An immigrant’s initial destination in Canada is often a major influencer of their eventual success in settling and establishing a career. A report published by the IPL in July 2020 notes that a lack of information about different regions in Canada can affect an immigrant’s chances of success. It cites a study that ranked 52 Canadian regions based on how immigrants were able to maximize their income during their first year after arrival. Toronto, though an extremely popular destination for immigrants, ranked only 20th out of 52, suggesting that other, less popular or well-known regions may be better destinations for some immigrants. GeoMatch could help make certain that an individual’s first destination is the one that gives them the best chances of finding employment and a community to call their own.

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