Saskatoon, April 11, 2012 — Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today announced changes to strengthen provincial immigration programs.
Starting July 1, 2012, most Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants for semi- and low-skilled professions will have to undergo mandatory language testing of their listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities and meet a minimum standard across all four of these categories.
In addition, Minister Kenney said that further changes to the program will be made to continue to focus on economic streams. The changes are the latest in a series of announcements the Minister has made about transforming Canada’s economic immigration program into a fast and flexible system focused on jobs, growth and prosperity.
“As a result, immigrants coming to Canada under PNPs will arrive with much better language skills and will be selected for the impact they can have on Canada’s economy,” the Minister said. He was joined at a news conference by his Saskatchewan counterpart, Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris.
The announcement is the latest in a series Minister Kenney has made about transforming Canada’s immigration system to better support economic growth.
The PNP has been a major success in helping to spread the benefits of immigration across the country, with many economic immigrants choosing to settle outside of the three major cities. In Saskatchewan, 5,354 immigrants arrived under the program in 2010, compared with 173 in 2003.
“We have supported enormous growth in the number of provincial nominees in recent years because it makes sense for the provinces and territories to have the flexibility to meet regional needs,” said Minister Kenney.
“Saskatchewan has successfully used the program and has actively recruited immigrants with the skills needed here. I’d like to thank the province for its continued cooperation.”
“Newcomers play a significant role in building and maintaining the highest quality of life in our province and in our country,” said Minister Norris.
“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to building the best provincial immigration program to meet our economic and labour market needs.”
The Provincial Nominee Program was designed to be aligned with Canada’s economic and labour needs. But, in some provinces, it is being used as an indirect route to family reunification.
“We have a federal family sponsorship program that reunites families,” added Minister Kenney.
“This is not the goal of the PNP and we want to work with provinces and territories to ensure that the program is solely focused on supporting economic growth rather than duplicating non-economic federal immigration streams.”
The PNP is now Canada’s second largest economic immigration program, with admissions having grown from about 8,000 immigrants in 2005 to expected admissions of 42,000 people this year. Each province and territory is responsible for the design and management of its own PNP, which must be consistent with federal immigration policy, legislation and the terms of bilateral agreements.
Photo of Minister Kenney will be available later today.
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