Ottawa’s immigration plan trims economic migrants

March 9, 2016

By Peter O’Neil, Vancouver Sun |

The Liberal government received some sharp B.C. criticism after unveiling a 2016 immigration plan that increases the emphasis on family reunification and on refugees at the expense of skilled workers.

For the first year in more than a century, Canada expects to bring in at least 300,000 permanent residents, up from just over 279,000 last year.

That increase is being driven by the large number of refugees being accepted, 55,800 compared to 24,800 last year, and a jump in the number of family members — grandparents, parents, spouses and children — uniting with already landed immigrants. The “family class” number is to jump almost 18 per cent, from 68,000 to 80,000.

Meanwhile, the number of “economic class” refugees — typically skilled workers and their families — will slide by more than 21,000, from 181,300 to 160,600.

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond, in a statement issued Wednesday, did not directly criticize the federal government. However, the statement indicated Victoria isn’t pleased that Ottawa didn’t increase B.C.’s allocation of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
“B.C. leads the country in economic growth and welcomes the contribution that immigrants make to our province,” she said.
The province had made clear to Ottawa that B.C.’s current allocation of 5,500 annually needs to increase.
“We recently redesigned our PNP intake process to best use our nominations so they are lined up with our specific labour market needs. B.C. has laid out a plan for three years that has a focus on the economic immigrants that we will need to meet the labor force demands in our growing economy.”

Others on the West Coast questioned parts of the government’s strategy.

B.C. employers recognize that “the best and brightest will not choose B.C. or Canada unless they know the can bring their families with them,” said Jon Garson, president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. “The business community is concerned, however, that this increase in overall immigration will see a reduction in the number of economic migrants.

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