Historic pact boosts province’s hope for increased flow of immigrants
by Linda Natividad-Cantiveros
It’s the deal Manitoba has long been waiting for to boost its declining immigrant intake. The Canada-Manitoba Immigration Agreement became a reality with the signing of the document by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Lucienne Robillard and Culture, Heritage and Citizenship Minister Harold Gilleshammer. In her speeck at the signing ceremony at the Manitoba Legislature Building on October 22, 1996, Minister Robillard said: “This Agreement is good for Canada and good for Manitobans. It is intended to ensure that Manitoba’s needs are better reflected in our national immigration policies.
Under the terms of the agreement, in developing its annual immigration plan, Canada shall consulte Manitoba before March 1st of each year and to whichthe province shall provide its advise before June 1st of each year. Canada’s Immigration Act requires the Immigration Minister to announce the immigration plan for the next year at a date no later than Nov. 1.
Specific labor market concerns in Manitoba will be addressed by the deal through the New Provincial/Territorial Nominee Class. Specific arrangements governing the province’s use of this class still have to be formulated. However, sources said that special recruitment programs can be pursued without making new negotiations with Ottawa.
Manitoba goes on record as the first province to avail of this new class when it recruited skilled workers overseas to fill the needs of the fashion industry. The initiative is expected to bring in close to 500 new immigrants by year’s end.
With the respect to the number of skilled workers and busness class immigrants, Manitoba’s entitlement is, at minimum, equal to its proportional percentage of Canada’s total population as determined by Statistics Canada on Jan. 1st of the previous year.
The two governments also agreed to cooperate in the promotion and recruitment of skilled workers and business immigrants.
While the deal gives Manitoba more flexibility in deciding who it will allow into the province, there are areas where follow up negotiations have to be done. One such area is in the assisted relative (AR) category which before it was scrapped by the Federal Tory government allowed as much as 15 points to applicants whose relatives (aunts, uncle, cousins, brothers, etc) here are willing to sponsor them.
Sources from the province indicated their interest in pursuing the AR class. Manitoba’s immigrant intake declined by almost half with the removal of this category.
The Philippines and other Asian countries have been the top 10 country source of immigrants for 10 years from 1983-1996 mainly as a result of the AR class.
Minister Robillard also indicated the need to develop strategies to keep immigrant stay in smaller cities and towns.