Manitoba’s fastest demographic growth in the country (Source: January 2011 Census, Statistics Canada) can be attributed partly to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program’s success in attracting immigrants to the province. It’s a clear proof that the province’s goal of economic growth through increased population and labor force is well-served by the nominee program.
Recent studies have shown that the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program—if measured through the attraction, integration, and retention of immigrants—is generally a success. They have certainly argued that the nominee program’s attraction and retention of immigrants is commendable while the integration is still a work in progress.
Why is the integration of immigrants a work in progress? The studies reveal that, while the government has shown considerable effort in providing settlement and integration services (e.g. community orientation, language training, job search assistance, job training), “it has been less successful in integrating immigration policy with other policies, which are highly important in the settlement and integration process.” Primarily, the provincial government has never developed an adequate housing policy to support immigrant arrivals, particularly in the rental housing sector. Secondarily, immigrants’ problem of credential recognition, credit for foreign work experience, the lack of Canadian work experience, and the need for government-funded credential upgrading remain unresolved. These concerns are the ones which immigrants have to face as they take the first steps of their integration into the Canadian society; concerns which cannot simply be reduced as immigrants’ “lack of information.”
A closer look at the immigrants’ integration into the Canadian society would reveal that much of the “burden” of integration is upon immigrants themselves as they are supported by their families, friends, community, and non-governmental organizations; while the government takes the “lesser burden” for their integration. It appears that immigrants are left “to plot their own course” of integration as the government continues to take minimal responsibility to their primary and fundamental concerns as newly landed immigrants.
The situation presents an irony in that while the provincial government considers immigrants as solution to the province’s population and labor force problem (hence, contributor to economic growth), and that the provincial government has the “power” to enact and implement policies to aid immigrants in their integration into the Canadian society, it has instead taken minimal responsibility.
Immigrants are surely potential assets of the province. They not only define Canada’s being a multicultural country but also contribute to making Canada a better society—politically, socially, culturally, and economically.
Immigration policies must then be enacted and implemented by the provincial government to address primary and fundamental concerns of immigrants. For, if they are not addressed, then arguing that immigrants are merely a means to Manitoba’s economic goals is not unreasonable.
The following publications have been helpful in the construction of this article.
-Christopher Leo and Martine August. “The Multi-Level Governance of Immigration and Settlement: Making Deep Federalism Work.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 42 (2), 2009
Greg Di Cresce, “Growing Pains,” Winnipeg Free Press, February 19, 2012
-Joe Friesen, Destination Manitoba: Province a Model of Immigrant Reform, The Globe and Mail, February 5, 2012
-Tom Carter, et al, “An Evaluation of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, Manitoba Labour and Immigration,” July 2009
-Tom Carter, et al, “The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program: Attraction, Integration, and Retention of Immigrants,” October 2010