Towns con­cerned about PNP changes

As more im­mi­grants set­tle in small towns in P.E.I., im­pact of PNP changes re­mains un­clear

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY STU NEATBY Stu.neatby@the­guardian.pe.ca Twitter.com/stu_neatby

Ad­min­is­tra­tors with two smaller mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in P.E.I. are in the dark as to how changes to the pro­vin­cial nom­i­nee pro­gram will af­fect mi­gra­tion to their towns.

The chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cers of Mon­tague and Kens­ing­ton told The Guardian they have seen a rise in in­ter­est from prospec­tive im­mi­grants in the last year. Both said they are un­clear whether the changes will mean fewer im­mi­grants will look to set­tle in their towns.

The prov­ince an­nounced on Wed­nes­day it would be end­ing the con­tro­ver­sial en­trepreneur­ship stream of the PNP pro­gram. The move fol­lowed low re­ten­tion num­bers as well as two in­ves­ti­ga­tions into im­mi­gra­tion fraud by the Canada Border Ser­vices Agency in­volv­ing as many as 1,000 ap­pli­cants.

Po­ten­tial PNP ap­pli­cants can still ap­ply as en­trepreneurs un­der a work per­mit stream. But, ap­pli­cants will only re­ceive their per­ma­nent res­i­dency af­ter

run­ning a busi­ness for one year. Ap­pli­cants will still be given ad­di­tional points if they live in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties but will no longer be re­quired to pay a $200,000 de­posit to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

Andy Daggett, CAO of Mon­tague, said the town has en­dorsed be­tween 40 and 50 PNP ap­pli­cants in the last year. Of those, be­tween 10 and 15 have re­ceived their per­ma­nent res­i­dency, a step to­wards ci­ti­zen­ship.

But Daggett has heard lit­tle about whether the changes to the PNP will cut off in­ter­est from po­ten­tial im­mi­grants in­ter­ested in mov­ing to Mon­tague.

“It was re­ally sprung on us,” he said.

Fac­ing crit­i­cism of the PNP, the prov­ince in­tro­duced changes to the Is­land’s pro­vin­cial nom­i­nee pro­gram late last year, which al­lo­cated a higher point score to po­ten­tial im­mi­grants who agreed to live and es­tab­lish busi­nesses in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. The prov­ince claimed this “ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est” model, which ranked ap­pli­cants based on their lan­guage skills, age, busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence and ed­u­ca­tion, would bring in im­mi­grants bet­ter suited to P.E.I.

Last year’s changes re­sult in a flood of calls from im­mi­gra­tion agents to staff from small towns like Mon­tague, O’Leary and Kens­ing­ton.

“For the first 10 years that I was here, I didn’t know any of the agents. I’d never heard of them and they had never con­tacted me,” Daggett said.

“Then in one week I had two dif­fer­ent agents con­tact me about set­ting up meet­ings. In the next week I had an­other agent or two con­tact me.”

Daggett said the ad­di­tional work­load was con­sid­er­able but may have been worth­while.

“I’m ex­cited about see­ing more peo­ple com­ing to, set­tling in and hope­fully lov­ing this area as much as most of us do,” he said.

Ge­off Baker, CAO for the Town of Kens­ing­ton, was more crit­i­cal. As the town’s only staffer, he said he met with over 60 PNP ap­pli­cants over a 90-day pe­riod af­ter the changes were in­tro­duced. The town ended up en­dors­ing only six in­di­vid­u­als un­der the PNP. Only two have been ap­proved.

Baker said he stopped meet­ing with po­ten­tial PNP ap­pli­cants in July.

“In a lot of smaller mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, there is a sin­gu­lar staff per­son who now had to take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity for this pro­gram in ad­di­tion to ev­ery­thing else that they had to do,” Baker said.

“The ques­tion coun­cil have al­ways asked me, from the very be­gin­ning as we made our way through the pro­gram, was ‘where all these peo­ple be­fore Kens­ing­ton was worth points?’ “

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Andy Daggett

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