March 14, 2014
Ontario proposes a Québec style Provincial Nominee Program
According to Ontario Immigration Minister Michael Coteau, Ontario wants what Québec has – a special agreement with the Government of Canada on immigration. Like Québec, Ontario too would like more power to choose its own immigrants and to set its own targets for attracting skilled workers to the province.
This past month the Ontario government introduced legislation proposing an expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program. The program would grow from 1,300 economic immigrants to 5,000 accepted per year. Similar to Québec, under this new legislation Ontario would have the discretion to develop its own specific selection strategy.
Québec currently has its own set criteria for choosing new immigrants who will adapt well to life in Quebec. A skilled worker first applies to the Québec Government for a Certificat de Sélection du Québec (CSQ) and then later can apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada programs to gain Permanent Residency.
Notwithstanding the very different historical relationship Québec and Ontario have vis-à-vis the Canadian Government, Ontario also has cause to seek a province-specific approach to immigration. Ontario is looking to grow its immigration program beyond the existing 100,000 new residents per year. Ontario also seeks to court a far grater number of skilled professionals in fields like Information Technology, which are in high demand in the province. Annual caps to the Federal Skilled Worker Program introduced earlier this year by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, may obstruct the Province’s designs on attracting more skilled workers and their families to Ontario.
The Provincial Nominee Program allows employers to fill skilled positions when there is a shortage of qualified candidates to be found within Ontario. Under the proposed new legislation, new immigrants would apply first to an expanded Ontario Provincial Nominee Program. The role of Citizenship and Immigration Canada would then be to clear these applicants on the basis of security and medical admissibility.