Express Entry category-based draws: Which categories have the most job vacancies?

Express Entry category-based draws: Which categories have the most job vacancies?

In a significant announcement on May 31st, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser unveiled the specific categories that will be prioritized for the forthcoming category-based Express Entry draws, scheduled to commence this summer. This crucial information aims to provide clarity and guidance to prospective applicants seeking to navigate the immigration process effectively.

A new and noteworthy addition to the immigration process involves the introduction of category-based draws, which will be conducted in conjunction with the existing general draws and program-specific draws. Under the general draws, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) selects candidates with the highest ranks to apply for permanent residence. Conversely, program-specific draws exclusively target top-ranking candidates within specific programs.

The forthcoming category-based draws, as announced by the IRCC, will prioritize the invitation of the highest-ranking candidates who possess exceptional proficiency in the French language or possess substantial work experience in the following sectors:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
  3. Trades encompassing various skilled areas such as carpentry, plumbing, and contracting
  4. Transportation
  5. Agriculture and agri-food industries

This strategic approach seeks to attract and welcome individuals who excel in these key domains, contributing to the growth and development of Canada's workforce and overall economy.

How were these categories chosen?

The selection of these categories was a result of a meticulous process. In order to address the labor shortage in Canada, the chosen categories aim to fill vacant positions across the country. The selection was guided by legislative requirements that ensured the Immigration Minister engaged in extensive consultations with various stakeholders. These consultations involved representatives from provinces and territories, injury members, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, as well as immigration researchers and practitioners.


The Healthcare and Social Assistance category has witnessed a surge in job vacancies, particularly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada heavily relies on immigration to meet the staffing needs in its healthcare system. Notably, a significant proportion of registered nurses (25%) and physicians (36%) in Canada were born outside the country. To facilitate the immigration of foreign-trained healthcare workers, the IRCC has implemented measures to streamline the process, such as removing certain barriers for physicians already residing in Canada on temporary residency visas.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, the Healthcare and Social Assistance category reported 143,695 job vacancies, resulting in a job vacancy rate of 6%. The distribution of job vacancies per province was as follows:

  • Ontario: 55,250
  • Quebec: 40,105
  • British Columbia: 17,705
  • Alberta: 9,770
  • Saskatchewan: 2,955
  • Manitoba: 6,790
  • Newfoundland: 2,250
  • Nova Scotia: 4,780
  • New Brunswick: 2,630
  • PEI: 685
  • Northwest Territories: 565

STEM Professions:

STEM occupations primarily fall under the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services category. This sector experienced 56,915 job vacancies, accounting for 4.6% of the total in the fourth quarter of 2022. The distribution of job vacancies per province was as follows:

  • Ontario: 24,525
  • Quebec: 14,725
  • British Columbia: 8,115
  • Alberta: 5,515
  • Saskatchewan: 895
  • Manitoba: 630
  • Newfoundland: 405
  • New Brunswick: 595
  • Nova Scotia: 1,110
  • PEI: 200

Information regarding job vacancies in the territories is either unavailable or indicates no vacancies.

STEM occupations are experiencing increasing demand in Canada. A November 2022 report by Statistics Canada highlighted that the combination of a high retirement rate and evolving technology and automation has created a skills gap within the Canadian labor force. Many STEM professions offer competitive salaries compared to other categories, with an average hourly wage of $35.80 in the fourth quarter of 2022, as opposed to $16.35 in the Accommodation and Food Services category, for example.


The Trades category encompasses both wholesale and retail trades, as per the Statistics Canada data. Wholesale trades reported 30,930 job vacancies, while retail trades accounted for 108,795 job vacancies. The distribution of job vacancies per province was as follows:

  • Ontario: 55,660
  • Quebec: 34,495
  • British Columbia: 19,215
  • Alberta: 15,545
  • Saskatchewan: 4,665
  • Manitoba: 3,025
  • Newfoundland: 895
  • New Brunswick: 2,155
  • Nova Scotia: 3,065
  • PEI: 520 (retail trade only; no wholesale trade job vacancies)


The Transportation and Warehousing category reported 43,700 job vacancies, representing a job vacancy rate of 5%. However, since the beginning of 2021, the job vacancy rate in the transport sector has been declining. The distribution of job vacancies per province was as follows:

  • Ontario: 15,110
  • Quebec: 7,950
  • British Columbia: 9,060
  • Alberta: 6,445
  • Saskatchewan: 915
  • Manitoba: 1,915
  • Newfoundland: 210
  • New Brunswick: 720
  • Nova Scotia: 1,055
  • PEI: 115

Agriculture and Agri-food:

In the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting category, the job vacancy rate was 10,535 or 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022. The job vacancy rate in this sector has been declining since 2021, reaching its peak at 7.2% in the second quarter of 2022. The distribution of job vacancies per province was as follows:

  • Ontario: 3,070
  • Quebec: 1,950
  • British Columbia: 2,475
  • Alberta: 940
  • Saskatchewan: 540
  • Manitoba: 550
  • New Brunswick: 720
  • Nova Scotia: 425
  • PEI: 130

Minister Fraser emphasized that the invitation of skilled workers from these specific categories will support Canada in welcoming in-demand professionals across the country. The category-based draws are set to commence in the summer, although an exact date has not been provided yet.



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