The Pallister government’s proposal to charge newcomers $500 and change the rules of the Provincial Nominee Program is a blatant cash grab that hurts newcomers and the province, NDP Interim Leader Flor Marcelino said today.
“The premier is making unnecessary and drastic changes to the highly successful Provincial Nominee Program and justifies it with false claims that many newcomers end up on welfare,” Marcelino said. “The reality is newcomers through the PNP program have among the most successful employment records in Canada and they put down roots in Manitoba.”
In 2014, the PNP accounted for 75 per cent of all newcomers to Manitoba. More than 90 per cent have employment within a year of arrival and more than 86 per cent of PNP immigrants stay in the province.
“In announcing changes to a program that has served Manitoba well, the premier said one of the goals is to eliminate a backlog by next April,” Marcelino noted. “The premier must make it clear how he intends to do that. Will it be by purging qualified people on the waiting list, making it more expensive or by altering the criteria for entry?”
Marcelino pointed out the current PNP program emphasizes linkages to family, friends and community, as well as language and education skills, plus work history. If the premier’s changes to the program fail to build on that important strategy, the new class of newcomers may have little incentive to put down roots in the province, Marcelino added.
“Currently, many PNP newcomers have strong family ties in Manitoba and find work in a diverse range of industries,” Marcelino said. “There’s a danger that changing the criteria will mean newcomers will not have the same connection to Manitoba and will be more likely to leave this province. We urge the premier to scrap his regressive changes to the PNP.”