Deposit increase restricts program at wrong time
Despite lingering controversy about past sins, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) continues to be an important economic generator for Prince Edward Island. The overall program itself is a good one. Therewas deserved criticism for past indiscretions butthe greed of a few should not condemn a program that assisted the many. Hundreds and hundreds of Island businesses legitimately benefitted from PNP.It poured hundreds of millions into the Island economy at a time when it was sorely needed.
The federal-provincial program underwent reform sand tighter controls since the 2007 orgy which ensnared the former P.E.I. Liberal government, various companies and individuals. P.E.I.’s PNP has been the subject of numerous investigations inthe past, including bythe auditorgeneral and the RCMP. No charges have ever been laid.
While critics remain obsessed with what happened some nine years ago, PNP was relaunched and has quietly gone about its business. It continues to attract immigrants willing toinvest in this province in return for fast-tracking their visa applications to become Canadian citizens. And in these current economic times, PNP is more important than ever to attract new immigrants, investment and population growth.
Soone wonders whythe province has decided to tinker with some key elements of the program. The province has doubled the required deposit or down payment to $200,000. The money is held in escrow bya provincial Crown corporation and the province retains all interest accrued. Should the immigrant fail to meet criteria, the province then gets to keep the entire amount.
So one could conclude that the deposit was increased as a money-grabby the province. It also places an extra hardship on an immigrant who might have cobbled together all available resources tomake that original $100,000 deposit to come to P.E.I.
The province argues that deposits were increased to ensure the best possible applicants come to P.E.I. through this program. So only the richest immigrants need apply; or more money means a better immigrant? One could argue that the more money an immigrant has when arriving here, the less importance is placed on a deposit. It would logically follow that there is a greater likelihood that an immigrant is willingly take the financial hit as the cost of getting a Canadian passport and then leaving P.E.I. for elsewhere in Canada as soon as possible.
The province fails to grasp that an immigrant is far more valuable remaining in the province and investing and building a business here over the long term, than opting for a quick cash grab of $200,000.
Opposition Leader Jamie Fox made an excellent point when he noted the province is trying to encourage immigrants to come and invest in our industries and small businesses yet limits the ability of newcomers tohave the capital to develop a business. It might convince immigrants on the financial bubble to look at other provinces.
P.E.I. has pocketed millions in defaulted PNP deposits in past years and targeting immigrants might be an attemptto pocket even more.