Buoyed by strong economic growth, the number of immigrants settling in the province of Manitoba soared to a 50 year high. Government officials recently announced that a total of 9989 new immigrants arrived in the province in 2006, just shy of Manitoba's target of 10,000.

The past year saw the province increase its immigration levels by 23 percent over 2005. The majority of immigration to the province fell under Manitoba's Provincial Nominee Program - accounting for 6,600 workers. Under the program, the province is able to directly select immigrants that will meet the province's needs in categories agreed upon with the federal government. The province also saw increases of over 10 percent in the family class and refugee categories.

In 2006 Manitoba attracted half of all provincial nominee immigrants to Canada—despite a population that stands at approximately 3 percent of the Canada’s total. The province's success is attracting attention from its neighbours, especially booming Alberta. Iris Evans, the Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry for the province of Alberta, visited Manitoba last week to study its strategies. "I wanted to know how they managed to speed it (immigration) up and do it so quickly and seemingly so effectively," said Evans in an interview.

Despite the significant increase, Manitoba continues to push for more immigration to fill human resource needs and fuel the growing economy. The province has a long term plan in place, hoping to welcome roughly 10,000 new immigrants per year over the next 10 years. Since 1999, just over 50,000 immigrants have made their homes in Manitoba.