Provincial Premiers Call For Greater Say in Canadian Immigration

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney at the two day economic forum (Province of Nova Scotia)

The premiers of Canada’s provincial and territorial governments concluded a forum on economic development in Halifax today with a joint-call on the federal government to give them greater control over immigration.

“We want to become masters of our own destiny when it comes to the immigration file. Nobody better understands our needs and our capacity to accommodate and our capacity to develop new Canadians so they can develop to their fullest,” said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty at today’s news conference.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark added: “We want more space to be able to make our decisions about which immigrants will come to our provinces, where they will be settled and how many we’ll get.”

Quebec has had an independent immigration program since the 1970s, but the other provinces only started being delegated immigration selection powers over the last decade with the signing of several federal-provincial agreements creating Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

While the number of provincial nominees has grown seven fold since 2004, with 42,000 to 45,000 individuals expected to immigrate under a PNP in 2012, the pace of change is not fast enough for the provinces, who want to select a greater share of the approximately 250,000 individuals who are admitted into Canada as permanent residents each year.

The provincial premiers say that being able to select their own immigrants gives them more power to control the direction of their economic development by selecting those individuals that have the skills to meet their regional labour shortages, which they say their governments are best positioned to assess.

The two-day economic forum was hosted by the Council of the Federation, an institution created by the provincial and territorial governments to facilitate collaboration between their respective governments.

The forum saw presentations from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Tyler Cowen, author of The Great Stagnation.

Federal Gov of Canada Increases Nova Scotia’s Immigration Nominee Quota

Nova Scotia will be able to nominate 700 applicants and their families for immigration to Canada in 2012 after the cap for its Provincial Nominee Program was increased by 200

Nova Scotia’s provincial government announced yesterday that the federal government has increased the province’s immigrant nominee cap by 200, to 700 nominations in 2012.

“It will help us address existing and expected labour shortages,” said Marilyn More, the provincial minister responsible for Nova Scotia’s Office of Immigration. She said that the province would push for further increases of its Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) quota.

PNPs allow Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals who they deem as likely to contribute to their economy for immigration to Canada. The first PNP was created for Manitoba in 1998, and quickly expanded to all other provinces.

The federal government, which has jurisdiction over immigration in Canada, caps the number of individuals each province can nominate for Canadian permanent residence each year, but that number has steadily increased, amid repeated appeals by provincial premiers for expansions of their PNPs, which they say allow them to select the immigrants that best meet their provinces’ unique economic needs.

While the federal government has indicated it would continue to expand the PNPs, it has also expressed concern about the standards some provincial government use when nominating individuals. In July, it instituted minimum language requirements for PNP applicants in low/semi-skilled occupations.

Under the new language rules, applicants in occupations that are classified as NOC Skill Level C or D must prove English or French proficiency of at least Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)/Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) 4, in all categories: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

The required International English Language Test System (IELTS) test scores to meet CLB 4 are 4.0, 4.5, 3.5, and 4.0 for listening, speaking, reading and writing, respectively.