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Study suggests that Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programme is working well


The majority of immigrants selected by provinces and territories under the Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP) are succeeding in Canada, according to a new study.
The PNP is the second largest economic immigration programme after the Federal Skilled Worker Programme (FSWP). It allows participating provinces and territories to nominate potential immigrants who they believe will meet their particular economic and labour market needs. The PNP has grown almost six fold since 2004 and currently accounts for over 36,000 new permanent residents per year.
The study by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) focused on the economic outcomes and mobility of provincial nominees (PNs) admitted between 2005 and 2009. Overall, the report has found that the programme is working well, although there are differences in economic outcomes by province or territory and by PNP stream.
The scope of the study was limited to assessing the PNP from a national perspective. Provinces and territories are expected to conduct regular evaluations of their own PNPs.
‘Clearly, provincial nominees have strong economic outcomes and are making a positive contribution to Canada,’ said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
According to the report more than 90% percent of PNs declared employment earnings after one year in Canada. After three years, their average income ranged between $35,200 and $45,100. Although results varied by stream and location, about 70% of the PNs surveyed held a job in line with their skills.
CIC’s study confirmed that the PNP is effective in helping to spread the benefits of immigration across the country. Today, 26% of all economic immigrants are destined for provinces other than Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, compared to 11% in 1997. However, retention rates of PNs in their province or territory of nomination vary widely, from 23% to 95%.
The evaluation also pointed to certain areas of the PNP in need of improvement, such as some aspects of programme design, delivery and accountability. Currently, each province and territory with a PNP is responsible for the design and programme requirements for their nominee categories, which must always respect federal immigration regulations.
To ensure better economic outcomes, the report recommends that there be minimum language standards for all PNs and stronger links between PN occupations and specific local labour market needs.
It also calls for greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of the provinces and territories and CIC visa offices abroad in areas such as fraud detection.
In addition, the report recommends that CIC work with the provinces and territories to strengthen the focus on the PNP objective of encouraging the development of official language minority communities. Finally, the evaluation proposes that a common PNP monitoring and reporting framework be established to strengthen overall accountability.
‘As I’ve said in the past, we are excited about this programme but realise that it needs improvement in key areas,’ said Kenney.
In 2012, CIC plans to admit between 42,000 and 45,000 immigrants under the PNP category, including spouses and dependants. This year, the provinces and territories will retain the same overall and individual PNP nomination allotments as in 2011.

Changes to immigration system will help Canada bring in tradespeople: Kenney

BY ROBERT HILTZ, POSTMEDIA 



OTTAWA — Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says changes are coming to Canada’s immigration system to make it more flexible in an effort to combat labour shortages.
Kenney told CTV’s Question Period that the government is planning to change the points system for selecting immigrants to recognize the skilled trades. This policy change would alter the focus of the traditional immigration preference for university-educated migrants including engineers and doctors.
“People who are skilled tradespeople have an almost impossible job of coming to Canada under our current system because the skilled worker program basically selects people with advanced university degrees,” Kenney told CTV.
He said by opening up the border to more trade-oriented workers, the federal government will be able to attract “hidden jewels” that will help fill labour shortages in specific areas.
NDP MP Olivia Chow said the federal government would serve Canadians better by training people out of work at home, before looking abroad to fill labour needs.
“We have 1.4 million Canadians looking for work and the apprenticeship programs and school training programs can certainly be ramped up,” Chow said. “Those (companies) that train workers — and train unemployed workers especially — should be rewarded with a tax break.”
She said Canada has relied on immigration too often to fill needs in the labour market, where there are plenty of options at home.
Chow said only bringing in workers would make it difficult for those who gain residency or citizenship to bring their families to Canada.
Kenney said there were plans to make it easier to deport people from the country found to be inadmissible by immigration officials.
“We’ll be coming forward with legislation on that in this term of Parliament to streamline the number of almost endless appeals that exist,” he said.
“When these people hire clever lawyers, they’re able to go back with endless appeals,” Kenney said. “We need to say, ‘You get your day in court in Canada, but not 20 years in court.’ ”
Chow said there is no need to change the rules surrounding deportation to remove people from Canada. Instead, she said, the Canada Border Services Agency should keep better track of individuals set for deportation.
A scathing auditor general’s report released in November said the CBSA was lacking guidance, training and information to properly determine who should and shouldn’t be let into Canada.
In an effort to track down people set for deportation, the CBSA rolled out a most wanted list to enlist the public’s help in tracking down people convicted of serious crimes and suspected war criminals that have slipped past the CBSA.
Kenney used as example the case of Leon Mugesera, a suspect wanted in his native Rwanda and accused of inciting the 1994 genocide — where close to one million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered. Mugesera was shipped back to his homeland this month after at 15 year legal battle over his deportation — an example that Chow said was extreme.
The minister also said there were no plans to expand the recent changes to government regulations making it mandatory for immigrants taking the oath of citizenship to reveal their faces, even if they wear traditional coverings like the niqab or burka.
He said it was already standard procedure for face coverings to be removed in interviews with visa officers.
“The general principle should be that when citizens are interacting with the government, with the state, they should be showing us who they are, uncovering their faces, and I think we’re taking a reasonable approach to that,” he said.
rhiltz@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/robert—hiltz


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Immigration flexibility will attract ‘hidden jewels’ to Canada: Kenney


By Robert Hiltz
OTTAWA — Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says changes are coming to Canada’s immigration system to make it more flexible in an effort to combat labour shortages.
Kenney told CTV’s Question Period that the government is planning to change the points system for selecting immigrants to recognize the skilled trades. This policy change would alter the focus of the traditional immigration preference for university-educated migrants including engineers and doctors.
“People who are skilled tradespeople have an almost impossible job of coming to Canada under our current system because the skilled worker program basically selects people with advanced university degrees,” Kenney told CTV.
He said by opening up the border to more trade-oriented workers, the federal government will be able to attract “hidden jewels” that will help fill labour shortages in specific areas.
NDP MP Olivia Chow said the federal government would serve Canadians better by training people out of work at home, before looking abroad to fill labour needs.
“We have 1.4 million Canadians looking for work and the apprenticeship programs and school training programs can certainly be ramped up,” Chow said. “Those (companies) that train workers — and train unemployed workers especially — should be rewarded with a tax break.”
She said Canada has relied on immigration too often to fill needs in the labour market, where there are plenty of options at home.
Chow said only bringing in workers would make it difficult for those who gain residency or citizenship to bring their families to Canada.
Kenney said there were plans to make it easier to deport people from the country found to be inadmissible by immigration officials.
“We’ll be coming forward with legislation on that in this term of Parliament to streamline the number of almost endless appeals that exist,” he said.
“When these people hire clever lawyers, they’re able to go back with endless appeals,” Kenney said. “We need to say, ‘You get your day in court in Canada, but not 20 years in court.’ ”
Chow said there is no need to change the rules surrounding deportation to remove people from Canada. Instead, she said, the Canada Border Services Agency should keep better track of individuals set for deportation.
A scathing auditor general’s report released in November said the CBSA was lacking guidance, training and information to properly determine who should and shouldn’t be let into Canada.
In an effort to track down people set for deportation, the CBSA rolled out a most wanted list to enlist the public’s help in tracking down people convicted of serious crimes and suspected war criminals that have slipped past the CBSA.
Kenney used as example the case of Leon Mugesera, a suspect wanted in his native Rwanda and accused of inciting the 1994 genocide — where close to one million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered. Mugesera was shipped back to his homeland this month after at 15 year legal battle over his deportation — an example that Chow said was extreme.
The minister also said there were no plans to expand the recent changes to government regulations making it mandatory for immigrants taking the oath of citizenship to reveal their faces, even if they wear traditional coverings like the niqab or burka.
He said it was already standard procedure for face coverings to be removed in interviews with visa officers.
“The general principle should be that when citizens are interacting with the government, with the state, they should be showing us who they are, uncovering their faces, and I think we’re taking a reasonable approach to that,” he said.

Ottawa: Immigrants need minimum language skills


CALGARY — A program which allows provinces to tailor immigration to fit local labour needs may look fine on the surface but a federal government evaluation has uncovered what it says are some troubling trends.
The program allows participating provinces and territories to nominate potential immigrants who they believe will meet particular economic and labour market requirements. It is the second-largest source of economic immigration to Canada and an estimated 42,000 to 45,000 people will be allowed to apply this year.
The evaluation by Immigration and Citizenship Canada says the majority of workers selected by the provinces are succeeding. More than 90 per cent declared employment earnings after one year in Canada and 70 per cent held a job in line with their skills.
But Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says there are problems. One is that less than one-quarter of nominees who moved to the Atlantic provinces stayed there compared with a 95 per cent rate in British Columbia.
Deborah Bayer of Nova Soctia’s office of immigration pointed out that the retention rate in the province is 68 per cent.
Kenney said another problem is that too many of those coming to Canada have little or no proficiency in either official language. He wants a minimum language standard for all provincial nominees and stronger links between their occupations and local job needs.
"It’s a partnership, not an Ottawa-knows-best situation, but at the end of the day we are going to be quite assertive in saying that we do think it’s best to have a standard, national language benchmark," Kenney said in Calgary on Thursday.
He said some provinces don’t seem to care whether their nominees speak the language at all.
"I guess what we’re saying to them is it doesn’t make a lot of sense to invite someone to Canada who doesn’t speak any English ... and some of the provinces have been, I would say, undervaluing language proficiency in their selection," he said.
Fraudulent immigration applications are significant, and there is a correlation between provinces that don’t enforce a language requirement and a higher rate of fraud, Kenney added.
"Some of the people who have little or no language proficiency come in through these investor schemes that we’ve had to shut down because they were quite dodgy. There were some provinces allowing consultants to run fast and loose to attract people who had a lot of money but no language proficiency."
Kenney said there are always "people around the world, particularly in the industry of bottom-feeding, unscrupulous immigration agents and consultants, who are willing to cut corners in order to make money to get people to Canada."
In November, New Brunswick stopped accepting applications under a Chinese immigration pilot program after an internal review. The auditor general there has also flagged concerns after finding that the province accepted about 5,000 immigrants during a 10-year span but didn’t track where they ended up living.
In Prince Edward Island, a former civil servant has alleged she saw senior provincial officials accept bribes to expedite immigration applications. Immigration Canada has forwarded that allegation to the RCMP, who are deciding whether to investigate.
In Nova Scotia, the government had to pay a $25-million settlement to immigrants who paid thousands of dollars for the promise of middle-management jobs which they never received.
Kenney said problems in Atlantic Canada can partially be blamed on a higher unemployment rate. As well, there may not be a strong established immigrant community to provide guidance and support.
"We need to work with the Atlantic provinces. They have benefited from this program. I don’t want to be too critical of the program."

Kenney pushes for more skilled immigrants to 'grow the economy'


Immigration Minister Jason Kenney happened to ride in the same elevator in a downtown building Friday with local entrepreneurial success story Ron Mundi.
And Kenney said Mundi — who bought and sold a half dozen hotels here and now owns the Coast Kamloops in Aberdeen — is the kind of immigrant the Conservative government wants to see more of in Canada as it shifts away from bringing in family members of those already here.
"The focus will be on economic immigrants who can help grow the economy," Kenney told reporters.
"I was just in the elevator with one of those folks (Mundi) who came to Canada like 20 years ago and he now owns millions of dollars of hotels in Canada. He started with nothing and now he's a huge entrepreneur. Those are the kinds of people we need."
Kenney was in Kamloops Friday meeting with local business representatives seeking input on the federal budget. He also toured the Ord Road Sikh temple and met with members of the Kamloops Sikh Cultural Society.
Pav Gill, secretary for the society, said members agree with the Conservative government's shift toward skilled immigrants.
"As a business owner I feel it's important we try and get the best. If they bring a skill set with them, it's better for our economy and country."
Gill said members are also satisfied with assurances from Kenney that sponsoring family members will still be possible as well as details on a crackdown of bogus marriages involving immigrants from Southeast Asia.
Kenney also met with representatives from TRU World. The immigration minister said the country is becoming home to an increasing number of foreign students — the Canadian experience class — who graduate and choose to remain here.
"It was slow starting…. (But) now we've had our ten thousandth foreign student on a fast-track basis."
A new class has also been created for PhD graduates who complete degrees here.
Kenney, who met with local business representatives in a round table session, said focus of the budget will be on economic growth and job creation.
And he echoed recent comments from Prime Minister Stephen Harper warning budget cuts are coming.
"We have to get to a balanced budget. There's going to be appropriate fiscal restraint… To be honest there's been very large growth in federal spending in the past few years."
Peter Aylen, past president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, said members recognize lack of spending room.
"We've got a big deficit and it doesn't look like that's going to change. But there's things we can do to generate a little more economic development."

From C to C: Chinese Canadian Stories of Migration, a Documentary Review


by Ed Sum
In the documentary, “From C to C, Chinese Stories of Migration,” the ‘C’ can mean anything. It is not just about coming from China to Canada, but it is about what some Chinese people did to contribute to Canadian society—some became war vets—while others faced scrutiny. Most of these immigrants were ostracized. They were denied their basic civil rights during the turn of the 19th century.
They arrived in this country during the two economic booms of the Pacific Northwest in the search for their ‘Gold Mountain.’ The families and a few survivors of that time recount their tales of racial inequality, survival and injustice. When compared to today’s immigration laws, some people may be shocked. This film skillfully dodges any political commentary and simply looks at how secluded one particular nationality felt.
After the gold rush boom of the Fraser River, the governments thought the Chinese migrants would leave, but they didn’t. They created new lives, sent money back to family and sought success instead of going home and losing face. Honour is everything amongst the Chinese, and this film certainly reflects that.
When the contrasts are made, to look back at life in China, this film creates a somber mood that is mesmerizing to watch. The rustic urban decay wrapped around foliage is wonderfully captured on film. It suggests a deeper meaning, where one infrastructure is on the verge of despoiling another. The shanty conditions of the stone villages are a reminder of those left behind by most immigrants. Younger Chinese-Canadian born viewers may well wonder about the world their grandparents lived in. A few members of today’s youth reveal their response, but more voices from this crowd could have helped hammer the point home.
With the aging and the current generation, like Karin Lee (filmmaker), Bill Wong (Tailor), and Frank Wong (WWII Vet), offering their memoirs, this documentary doesn’t simply get sentimental. It strives to mend fences. No matter how bad some things were, in life or with the clothes one wears, it can be patched up, as Bill Wong points out. With his bright smile, that’s one wonderful message this film makes.
Viewers interested in more stories, videos, and photos can go to the official From C to C website

Prime Minister Harper unveils grand plan to reshape Canada


TORONTO AND OTTAWA— From Friday's Globe and Mail

After five years of minority governments, Stephen Harper finally has the freedom to act.
He’s no longer looking at the limited horizon of the next budget or the next election. He’s planning on transforming Canada for a generation or more. This is Stephen Harper’s blueprint for reform.
Although short on details, Mr. Harper’s speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday made clear the sweep of his ambition. He will change how Canadians finance their retirement. He will overhaul the immigration system. He will make oil and gas exports to Asia a “national priority” and aggressively pursue free trade in India and Europe.
Several times in his speech, Mr. Harper portrayed his agenda as a fix for a generation – a fix he claimed is necessary to confront the challenges of an aging population. Canada’s demographics, he warned, pose “a threat to the social programs and services that Canadians cherish.” Preserving those social programs will likely mean cuts elsewhere.
“Western nations, in particular, face a choice of whether to create the conditions for growth and prosperity, or to risk long-term economic decline. In every decision, or failure to decide, we are choosing our future right now,” Mr. Harper said.
“We’ve already taken steps to limit the growth of our health-care spending. … We must do the same for our retirement-income system.”
He said he plans to make Canada’s old-age security program sustainable. What that means is unclear. He did not spell out whether seniors will have to wait longer to receive the benefit or whether clawbacks would be increased for higher income earners.
Unlike the Canada Pension Plan – which is supported by a separate and well-financed pool of savings – there is no pot of cash to support the OAS program, which is paid out of government revenues. A recent actuarial report pointed out that the cost of OAS will climb 32 per cent between 2010 and 2015, and OAS payouts to retirees will rise to $108-billion in 2030 from $36.5-billion in 2010.
While future changes to OAS were not explained, Mr. Harper said current retirees will not be affected. The major policy reforms are in addition to looming spending cuts, which Treasury Board President Tony Clement said on Thursday could be as much as $8-billion, twice the $4-billion target announced last year.
Mr. Harper further outlined the blueprint for his government by ticking off a list of policy priorities. He said Canada’s investments in science and technology had produced poor results and were a “significant problem for our country.” He said he intends to pursue free trade with the European Union and India and find new energy markets beyond the United States. Regulatory delays for mines and energy projects are also being targeted.
Mr. Harper said he intends to tackle immigration reform, a thorny issue in a country where one in five is an immigrant. Canada’s humanitarian obligations and its family reunification objectives will be “respected,” he said, but the needs of the labour force and the economy will now be central.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been working on significant reforms to the immigration system for several months. Mr. Kenney has said he wants to speed immigrant integration in the labour market by changing the emphasis of selection criteria. He intends to reward applicants who speak English or French, have job offers, Canadian work experience or postgraduate degrees, all of whom tend to fare better economically. The increased emphasis on economic immigrants could lead to reductions in the family class.
As the Canadian population ages, immigration is increasingly the major source of population growth. At the moment, more than 60 per cent of population growth comes from immigration, but that will approach 100 per cent by 2030. If Canada wants to maintain its population structure, or at least the proportion of the population that’s over 65, it would have to start admitting about three to four times its annual intake of roughly 250,000 immigrants, experts say.
As for OAS, previous Liberal and Conservative governments have tried – and failed spectacularly – to make the program financially sustainable. Both Brian Mulroney, and Paul Martin when he was finance minister, were forced to back down in the face of public pressure.
C.D. Howe Institute president Bill Robson said he believes the public will support changes if they see MPs and the public service scaling back their benefits as well.
“As seniors get more numerous, it’s clearly more difficult for politicians to take them on,” he said. “But I’m encouraged to think Canadians can get together on things like this.”
Susan Eng, vice-president of the non-profit retired persons advocacy group CARP, predicts a strong negative reaction to OAS changes, which were never discussed during the election campaign.
Ms. Eng said her group’s surveys show strong opposition to changing the OAS.
With reports from Jane Taber in Ottawa and The Canadian Press in Davos, Switzerland





Immigration minister says immigrant language proficiency must be a requirement


 

 
Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
 

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Photograph by: Nick Procaylo, edmontonjournal.com

CALGARY — Canada's immigration minister is calling for minimum language proficiency standards, which could help minimize immigration fraud cases emerging mainly out of the eastern provinces.
"Some of the people who have lower language proficiency have come in through these investor schemes that we've had to shut down because they were quite dodgy, and some provinces were allowing consultants to run fast and loose and attract people who had a lot of money but no language proficiency," Jason Kenney told reporters Thursday, while providing an update on the federal government's Provincial Nominee Program.
Kenney recommended that the Canadian government work more closely with provinces to step up fraud prevention efforts and eliminate "bottom-feeding, unscrupulous immigration agency consultants," many of whom use fake documents and line up fake jobs to take advantage of the system.
By setting language proficiency standards, the nominees selected are also more likely to better serve themselves, to succeed in their employment and, in turn, benefit provinces and territories economically.
Meanwhile, Kenney also highlighted the successes of the Provincial Nominee Program, which authorizes provinces to nominate individuals for permanent residence who meet specific regional labour market needs, such as engineers or tradespeople.
The Provincial Nominee Program, now the second largest economic immigration program after the Federal Skilled Worker Program, has grown nearly sixfold since 2004 and currently accounts for more than 36,000 new permanent residents per year in Canada.
A recent study, which looked at nominees admitted between 2005 and 2009, revealed that more than 90 per cent declared employment earnings after a year in Canada, and after three years, had an average income that ranged between $35,200 and $45,100. About 70 per cent found a job that matched their skill set.
As well, the program was able to spread nominees outside of the major metropolitan areas of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, with 26 per cent of all economic immigrants destined for provinces outside of Ontario, Quebec and B.C. compared with 11 per cent in 1997.
However, provincial retention rates varied significantly across the country, from 23 per cent in the east coast compared with 95 per cent in B.C., Kenney said, adding: "This issue merits further attention."
The report also recommended that the federal government work closer with provinces and territories to get businesses involved in the recruitment of people from overseas and to have jobs lined up for people when they arrive.
Alberta Human Services Minister Dave Hancock said the province doesn't have set language proficiency standards in its program, but he's confident most if not all nominees in Alberta have the necessary language skills to work here.
He added Alberta doesn't really have a problem with fraud cases within the nominee program here.
However, he said his main concern with the program is that Alberta's allotment has been capped at 5,000 for the last few years, which will remain the same this year. But he estimates Alberta needs up to 10,000 positions to deal with the province's labour crunch.
"We're going to have a skills shortage and this is one of the best programs from an immigration perspective to ensure we have a targeted way of bringing people needed in Alberta for the economic growth that's happened," he said, adding the province is facing a shortage of 114,000 skilled workers over the next 10 years.
Hancock said his department has been discussing with the federal government to have the cap lifted. But at the very least, he'd like to see the allotment raised to a minimum of 6,000.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada plans to admit 42,000 to 45,000 immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program, including spouses and dependents, and has given provinces and territories the same overall nomination allotments from 2011.
With files from Chris Varcoe, Calgary Herald


Rmore:http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Immigration+minister+says+immigrant+language+proficiency+must+requirement/6058296/story.html#ixzz1kiqcj5ST

P.E.I. lags in immigrant retention


P.E.I. has one of the worst records in the country for retaining immigrants from the provincial nominee program, says a report from Canada Immigration.
Just 37 per cent of PNP immigrants who arrived on P.E.I. before 2008 were still living on the Island at the end of that year. Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province with a worse record: 23 per cent. Retention rates in Alberta and British Columbia were over 95 per cent.
The retention issue for PNP immigrants was particularly problematic for P.E.I., which relied on the program for 95 per cent of its immigrants. Nationally immigrants arrived through a broad range of programs, with PNP making up just 17 per cent of immigrants.
The report concludes employment may be a factor in immigrant retention.
Just over half of P.E.I.'s nominees were earning a wage in their first year on the Island, and those who were earning were averaging just over $20,000 a year.
In Alberta and British Columbia, more than 80 per cent of PNP immigrants had been employed in Canada on work permits before being accepted to the provincial nominee program. On P.E.I., that number started at a high of 10 per cent in 2005 and had fallen to five per cent by 2009.


Province's workforce continues to shrink


MLA says retirements will see B.C. lose one million workers; only 650,000 on hand to fill the need

 
 
 
As the baby boomers retire and leave the workforce, British Columbia will need hundreds of thousands of skilled immigrants to replace them.
That need is one of the reasons why the provincial government has established an immigration task force that is travelling throughout the province to determine the needs of individual communities, said RichmondSteveston MLA John Yap, who leads the task force.
"There's no doubt B.C. needs more economic immigrants," Yap said, following a presentation at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Thursday.
"Our workforce is shrinking right now because people are retiring. We are losing one million people from the workforce in the near future due to retirement and we only have 650,000 people to fill the need," Yap said.
He leads a 10-member task force that recently started to criss-cross the province, seeking input from employers and others who are worried about the dwindling work force.
He started his consultation with local business and political leaders as well as other interested stakeholders in Fort St. John. "The immigration task force is part of the B.C. Jobs Plan. A strategy aimed at preparing for the expected economic boom," Yap said.
He has until March to consult with communities across the province and then submit his
report to Premier Christy Clark. "Based on the findings we have found so far, we realize that this is a growing problem," Yap said.
"What appears to be happening is businesses that hire new immigrants are seeing a high turnover rate because the immigrants take entry-level jobs when they first arrive and then look around for better work."
B.C. appears to be leading the other provinces in attracting immigrants but it still needs to do more, he said.
Yap praised the provincial nominee program because it accelerates the permanent resident application process for skilled workers, experienced business persons and their family members who want to settle in B.C. permanently. It allows nominees to apply for permanent resident status through Citizenship and Immigration Canada under the fast-tracked program.
Hilde Schlosar, executive director of the Central Island Multicultural Society, was at the meeting, which was closed to the public. Schlosar applauded B.C.'s plan to assist new immigrants and develop the workforce.
"This kind of thinking has worked well in other provinces, like Alberta. They have been able to maintain their workforce through immigration and there's no reason that I can think of why B.C. should be any different."
WCordery@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4237

Feds want to tackle troubling trends in immigration program


The Canadian Press

The program — which allows participating provinces and territories to nominate potential immigrants who they believe will meet particular economic and labour market requirements — is under fire for its lack of documentation and standards.
Topics : 
RCMPAtlantic Canada , CALGARY , British Columbia
[CALGARY, AB] — A program which allows provinces to tailor immigration to fit local labour needs may look fine on the surface but a federal government evaluation has uncovered what it says are some troubling trends.
The program allows participating provinces and territories to nominate potential immigrants who they believe will meet particular economic and labour market requirements. It is the second-largest source of economic immigration to Canada and an estimated 42,000 to 45,000 people will be allowed to apply this year.
The evaluation by Immigration and Citizenship Canada says the majority of workers selected by the provinces are succeeding. More than 90 per cent declared employment earnings after one year in Canada and 70 per cent held a job in line with their skills.
But Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says there are problems. One is that less than one-quarter of nominees who moved to the Atlantic provinces stayed there compared with a 95 per cent rate in British Columbia.
Another is that too many of those coming to Canada have little or no proficiency in either official language. Kenney wants a minimum language standard for all provincial nominees and stronger links between their occupations and local job needs.
"It's a partnership, not an Ottawa-knows-best situation, but at the end of the day we are going to be quite assertive in saying that we do think it's best to have a standard, national language benchmark," Kenney said in Calgary on Thursday.
He said some provinces don't seem to care whether their nominees speak the language at all.
"I guess what we're saying to them is it doesn't make a lot of sense to invite someone to Canada who doesn't speak any English ... and some of the provinces have been, I would say, undervaluing language proficiency in their selection," he said.
Fraudulent immigration applications are significant, and there is a correlation between provinces that don't enforce a language requirement and a higher rate of fraud, Kenney added.
"Some of the people who have little or no language proficiency come in through these investor schemes that we've had to shut down because they were quite dodgy. There were some provinces allowing consultants to run fast and loose to attract people who had a lot of money but no language proficiency."
Kenney said there are always "people around the world, particularly in the industry of bottom-feeding, unscrupulous immigration agents and consultants, who are willing to cut corners in order to make money to get people to Canada."
In November, New Brunswick stopped accepting applications under a Chinese immigration pilot program after an internal review. The auditor general there has also flagged concerns after finding that the province accepted about 5,000 immigrants during a 10-year span but didn't track where they ended up living.
In Prince Edward Island, a former civil servant has alleged she saw senior provincial officials accept bribes to expedite immigration applications. Immigration Canada has forwarded that allegation to the RCMP, who are deciding whether to investigate.
In Nova Scotia, the government had to pay a $25-million settlement to immigrants who paid thousands of dollars for the promise of middle-management jobs which they never received.
Kenney said problems in Atlantic Canada can partially be blamed on a higher unemployment rate. As well, there may not be a strong established immigrant community to provide guidance and support.
"We need to work with the Atlantic provinces. They have benefited from this program. I don't want to be too critical of the program."