Dubbed Immigrate to Alberta, the new portal is an offshoot of a three-year, $1.2-million federal funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The funding enables Alberta to develop tools and services to help promote the province as a destination for immigrants, as well as establish programs for social and economic integration of newcomers to Alberta.
The portal offers information on securing employment, finding a place to live, improving English language skills, as well as accessing services like health care, transportation and education.
“We want newcomers to choose Alberta and we want to make it easier for them to navigate the immigration process,” said Alberta’s Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry Iris Evans.
With the new Web portal, Alberta aims to attract about 25,000 immigrants to the province every year, said Terry Jorden, a spokesperson for the province’s Employment, Immigration and Industry Ministry. Currently, some 20,000 newcomers settle and work in Alberta every year.
The Immigrate to Alberta Web site is a product of focused testing and research that significantly involved interviewing immigrants, said Jorden.
“The new site attempts to centralize and present information in a clearer way, particularly for people at different stages of the (immigration) process,” Jorden said. “It’s more focused on the user rather than internal government structure.”
For instance, the ministry had tried to avoid using words on the portal that, while may mean something to most Canadians, might be completely new to a potential immigrant from another country, Jorden explained.
The Alberta government also ensured that the province’s immigration portal is able to provide as much information to potential immigrants as possible so they would know what to expect once they arrive in the country, he added.
“We are trying to be completely honest and upfront with immigrants so that they know what they are getting when they move to this part of the world. We don’t want people to feel they have been misled by promises that aren’t there,” Jorden said.
The Alberta spokesperson said the Immigrate to Alberta Web portal is one of the first provincial sites to launch under the CIC funding agreement. Other provincial governments have similar funding agreements with the CIC, according to Jorden.
Last year, Ontario launched its immigration portal, OntarioImmigration.ca, designed as a resource for the province’s newcomers. About 125,000 immigrants arrive in Ontario every year, representing more than half of the total number of immigrants to Canada.
Jorden said while it is “understandable” that many potential immigrants typically settle in the major Canadian cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, “we still feel that we should be working a little harder to tell them about Alberta.”
He cited occupational opportunities, the province’s natural environment, its people’s entrepreneurial pioneering spirit and safe communities as being among Alberta’s stronger attributes.
The Web site has been officially launched this week, but Jorden said the portal will be continuously evolving to remain relevant to its target audience. The portal also has an analytics application in place in the backend to allow the ministry to “track and understand who is visiting the Web site,” he said.