Manitoba Premier: Western Provinces Asked for Increase in Immigration Limit

A crop field near Winnipeg, Manitoba. The western provinces of Canada called on the federal government to raise their provincial nominee program caps in a meeting on Monday (Shahnoor Munmun)

Canada’s western provinces called on the federal government to remove the caps on their provincial immigration programs on Monday, according to a recent Bloomberg News interview with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.

Selinger said the limits the federal government places on the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are making it difficult for them to fill their labour shortages:

“We’ve seen some changes that have potentially put a crimp in our ability to grow our economies and have people living in our communities.”

A PNP is a province specific program that allows the provincial government to nominate foreign nationals for permanent residency. Each PNP is limited to nominating a certain number of individuals per year, with each province’s cap being determined by the federal government.

Canada’s western provinces, which have one of the best performing regional economies in the developed world, have over the last decade been allowed to nominate a steadily increasing number of foreigners per year.

The first PNP started as a pilot project in Manitoba in 1997, and has subsequently expanded to all of the provinces, with the provincial governments looking to it as a way to counteract the ageing of their populations.

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Conf Board of Canada Says Immigrants Diversify Economic Growth

Saskatoon’s famous Broadway bridge at night. A recent Conference Board of Canada report finds that for each additional 481 immigrants in Saskatchewan, there was an increase of $30 million in imports and $41 million in exports at the provincial level (Jay Van Doornum)

A new report by the influential Conference Board of Canada finds that immigration contributes to diversifying trade in provinces. The study looked at the relationship between immigration in the province of Saskatchewan, and the countries which Saskatchewan traded with.

It found that in Saskatchewan, having resident immigrants from a particular country was linked, at the provincial level, to more goods being exported to and imported from that country.

The study’s author believes that there are two ways through which immigrants affect trade: their preferences for native-country products leads to more imports, particularly from their native country, and their contacts in their native country, as well as their knowledge of that country, leads to both an increase in imports and in exports between their adopted country and their native one.

Looking at trade data from the years 2007 to 2011, the researcher found that “Saskatchewan is more likely to import goods from countries that have an increased immigrant presence in the province, regardless of the relative wealth, presence of a trade office, distance, or language spoken in that country”.

The analysis found that a 1 percent increase in the immigrant population is correlated with a 0.32 percent increase in the value of imported goods and a 0.36 percent increase in the value of exported goods.

The report proposes increasing immigration to create stronger trade links with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other countries outside North America, in order to diversify the sources of Canada’s economic growth and increase trade.

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Regina Chamber and Federal Immigration Minister Back Stricter Saskatchewan Immigration Laws

The Leader Post, Saskatchewan’s largest newspaper, reports that the influential Regina Chamber of Commerce has backed tighter rules recently introduced for the family sponsorship category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP):

The Regina & District Chamber of Commerce said it “empathizes” with individuals and families affected by changes in the program, but added that federal immigration rule changes permitting SINP were intended not as a family reunification vehicle, but as “an economic program that allowed provinces, including Saskatchewan, to access skilled workers”.

Chamber CEO John Hopkins said there’s another factor at work: with the number of people allowed sponsorship into Saskatchewan capped at only 4,000 per year, employers “need each and every nomination they can get”.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan's largest city. Changes to the province's nominee program have been widely criticized by those who had pinned their hopes of bringing family members to Canada on it. The Regina Chamber said the new rules were necessary to leave space in Saskatchewan's immigration quota for skilled workers. (Government of Saskatchewan)

Earlier this month, Saskatchewan’s Immigration Minister, Rob Norris, announced that new rules for SINP would limit the number of family members a household could nominate at a time to one, and require that the nominee have a job offer to be eligible under the program.

Mr. Norris said at the time that the federal government had urged the Saskatchewan government to tighten rules for SINP, which had been considered one of the easiest provincial nominee programs for those looking to get sponsored for immigration by a family member living in Canada.

Federal Immigration Minister Defends Changes to Province’s Family Sponsorship Rules

The changes to SINP have been criticized by many of those who had been planning to nominate their family members to immigrate to Canada under the program, with several protests being held in Saskatchewan against the changes in May.

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defended the new provincial rules, arguing that immigrants who want to live with their extended families can do so in their own country, and that the changes aren’t unfair to immigrants as those who have immigrated to Canada didn’t do so expecting to be able to nominate other family members later on.

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Saskatchewan Proposes Stricter Immigration Laws

Saskatchewan Immigration Minister Rob Norris proposed new legislation that would tighten SINP rules for family sponsorship

Saskatchewan’s Immigration Minister Rob Norris announced that the province will be tightening rules for the family sponsorship category of its Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. Saskatchewan’s family nominee program is considered to be easier for immigrants than those of other provinces, but it has also had problems with abuse.

The new rules include a cap of one application for the family nominee program per household. Mr. Norris described the current situation as one where “we’ve even heard stories of up to 20 applications” per household.

The Saskatchewan government is also requesting that the federal government increase the number of immigrants the province can nominate every year through its Immigrant Nominee Program from 4,000 to 6,000. Government officials say the province needs immigrants to fill its jobs.

Norris’ proposed legislation also includes a requirement for recruiters and immigration consultants to be in good standing in Saskatchewan to represent SINP applicants.

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