Court Forces Canadian Province to Reveal Names of Companies Involved in Immigrant Investor Program

Immigrants invested an estimated $120 million into PEI-based businesses through the PEI PNP Investor Program in 2007 and 2008 before it was shut down in 2009

A Provincial Crown Corporation responsible for managing Prince Edward Island’s (PEI) Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) was ordered by a court this month to release a list of 1,423 businesses that were approved to receive funding from immigrant investors.

The Crown Corporation, Island Investment Development Inc (IIDI), was initially successful in blocking requests under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), by applicants that included the CBC, Canada’s largest news broadcaster, for it to release the names of the businesses that it approved to receive investments through a now defunct “Immigrant partner” stream of the PEI PNP.

Under the Immigrant partner component of the PNP, the government of PEI would grant nominations for Canadian permanent residence to immigrants who made a $200,000 investment into a qualified PEI business and who had a net worth of at least $400,000.

PEI’s privacy commissioner ruled that disclosure of the names of the businesses and the number of PNP investment units that each received through the program would violate the FOIPPA by revealing financial information about the companies that they had a reasonable expectation of remaining confidential when they applied for the program.

The CBC subsequently appealed to the PEI Supreme Court to over-turn the privacy commissioner’s decision, and on November 2nd, the court did just that for one portion of the CBC’s request: the release of the names of the businesses.

The privacy commission’s decision to uphold IIDI’s refusal to release the number of investment units it approved for each company was upheld by the presiding judge, Justice Wayne Cheverie, as he argued that the minimum net worth of the concerned companies could be deduced from this information, given it was a criteria for eligibility under the program.

The list of companies was posted online by the CBC, and can be found here.

PEI currently has an active immigrant investor program, but unlike the Immigrant partner program which allowed for an unlimited number of nominations, the current program is capped at 400 applications per year.