Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, is right to be tightening the standards for the provincial nominee program, under which provincial governments can take part in choosing immigrants, drawing upon their knowledge of local and regional needs.
By doing so, Mr. Kenney is helping to fulfill the objectives of a sensible policy, which has been fairly successful – to varying degrees in different parts of Canada. In Prince Edward Island, the apparent abuse of the PNP became an issue in the provincial election in October; there have been problems in New Brunswick, too.
In the Atlantic provinces, 56 per cent of provincial nominees have stayed in the province that was their destination; for the country as the whole, the corresponding number is 82 per cent. Of course, immigrants don’t need internal passports to move around in Canada, but the program is less effective if they do not stay in the provinces they were selected for.
A working knowledge of English or French is vital for working in Canada; consequently, competence in one or other of the country’s official languages should be taken seriously as a precondition for selection in the PNP – which is not always the case.
The federal government’s study of the program found that only one province (not named) “was able to produce an evidence-based, formal labour market strategy” that tried to connect the demand for particular skills to the choices of immigrants. So the Minister of Immigration wants the identification of such needs to be built into the program.
Mr. Kenney and his department are acting prudently by taking steps to make the provincial nominee program better at accomplishing its purposes.