Attracting and retaining immigrants outside the metropolis: is the pie too small for everyone to have a piece? The case of Edmonton, Alberta

  • Tracey M. DerwingEmail author
  • Harvey Krahn


The municipal government of the province of Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton, commissioned a study in 2005 to determine how to attract more immigrants. City leaders were perplexed as to why Calgary, a city in the same province, of similar size with the same range of immigrant services, receives double the number of immigrants annually. In this paper, we describe the resulting study and discuss its attraction and retention recommendations. These suggestions are similar to those made by the researchers from other municipalities and regions seeking to increase their population via immigration. We compare Edmonton’s municipal and Alberta’s provincial immigration policies with those from elsewhere and discuss them in light of the national Canadian immigration policies. Given that the current federal government has no plans to increase immigration levels overall, different provinces and cities in Canada will be put in the position of having to compete for a relatively small number of newcomers, employing many of the same strategies. Without changes to federal policies, many communities may continue to struggle to attract immigrants.


Immigration policies Attraction Retention Employment Barriers 


En 2005, le gouvernement municipal d’Edmonton, la ville capitale de l’Alberta, a commandé une étude pour déterminer les meilleures stratégies d’attirer plus d’immigrants. Les chefs de la ville étaient perplexes devant le fait que Calgary, une ville de la même province, d’une taille comparable et avec des services pour immigrants semblables à ceux d’Edmonton, reçoive deux fois plus d’immigrants annuellement. Cet article porte sur l’étude et expose ses recommandations relatives à l’attraction et à la rétention des immigrants. Ces suggestions ressemblent à celles proposées par des chercheurs dans d’autres municipalités et d’autres régions qui veulent augmenter leur nombre par l’immigration. Nous comparons les politiques municipales d’Edmonton et provinciales d’Alberta en matière d’immigration d’une part, et des politiques d’ailleurs d’autre part, et situons cette comparaison dans le contexte des politiques nationales canadiennes en matière d’immigration. Puisque que le gouvernement fédéral canadien actuel ne compte pas augmenter le niveau global d’immigration, les provinces et les villes canadiennes se retrouveront devant la nécessité de se disputer le nombre relativement restreint de nouveaux arrivants, employant surtout les mêmes stratégies. Si les politiques fédérales ne changent pas, il se peut que plusieurs communautés doivent continuer à lutter pour attirer des immigrants.

Mots clés

Politiques en matière d’immigration Attraction Rétention Emploi Barrières 



The authors would like to express their appreciation to Jennifer Foote, Lori Diepenbroek, Sheila Troppman, Marlene Mulder, and Lenise Levesque for their assistance. We are grateful to the individuals who participated in stakeholder meetings and the student survey and to the administration and staff at NorQuest and Bow Valley Colleges in Edmonton and Calgary, respectively. Thanks to Rob Vineberg and to the two anonymous reviewers who provided very helpful comments on the earlier draft of this paper. The authors appreciate the support of the Victorian Department of Communities, Melbourne, Australia for funding the presentation of these findings at a symposium and at the 12th International Metropolis Conference. Finally, we thank Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Prairie Metropolis Centre for Research on Immigration, Integration, and Diversity for funding parts of the study on which this article is based.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Prairie Metropolis Centre for Research on Immigration, Integration and DiversityThe University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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