Labour Force Strengthens as Immigration Numbers Climb Thanks to Foreign Workers
Prince Edward Island has some of the lowest immigration retention rates in the country, fuelled in part by a now-defunct program that helped streamline entrepreneur entry to Canada. Though good on paper, the program did not encourage lasting retention, with entrepreneurs setting up shop to ensure successful immigration or permanent residency before vanishing to other provinces.
Further review of P.E.I’s provincial nominee program (PNP) led to the province exploring other options to increase immigration levels. Reviewers simultaneously agreed that encouraging PNP nominees to stay in the long term was vital. This review also sought to help mitigate fraud and other risks.
As a result, in an effort to improve immigration levels (and to help address the backlash against business-class immigrants), the provincial government announced plans to accept more foreign workers for permanent residency in Canada.
Over the next two years, this mandate will fill job vacancies throughout the province, geared heavily towards foreign workers, with less emphasis on entrepreneurs.
No Cause for Alarm
Due to the allegations around and subsequent termination of the provincial government’s initial entrepreneur-focused program, special considerations now exist to help avoid the potential threat of immigration fraud.
For example, foreign workers who apply must be present in P.E.I. for almost double the initial time requirement, a total of 247 days compared to the previous 183-day total.
Working with other federal and provincial partners and counterparts to detect potential fraud, P.E.I. will also instigate information-sharing agreements with various jurisdictions in the area as well as the federal government.
To handle this workload, two more staff have been recruited to augment the half-dozen personnel who operate the PNP and monitor compliance.
"We will be measuring a lot of important pieces that will really help us validate whether this program is working well or not. That will be around retention, about where folks are living, where they're working, those kind of things," commented P.E.I.’s Minister of Economic Development, Chris Palmer.
P.E.I.’s Retention Plan
This new initiative seeks to fill 425 job vacancies by 2019, almost doubling the number of filled vacancies from 2017.
Additionally, it’s expected that the number of business-class immigrants will be significantly lowered by 2019, too. This means the provincial government will provide fewer sponsorships for immigrant investors, paving the way for an increase in the number of sponsorships for foreign worker nominees in the PNP.
Palmer added that this mandate for retaining foreign workers will benefit the province, commenting, "The labour folks that are coming in are putting down roots here, contributing to the culture of P.E.I. and contributing to the economy of P.E.I."