Manitoba's immigration dips in 2012: report
Province sees 2,572 fewer immigrants arrive in 2012 than in 2011
Posted: Mar 20, 2013 1:09 PM CT
Last Updated: Mar 20, 2013 7:43 PM CT
The number of immigrants coming to Manitoba has fallen for the first time in 10 years, according to a government report.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada released its preliminary report for 2012 at the end of February.
The report revealed Manitoba had 2,572 fewer people immigrate to the province in 2012 than in 2011.
In 2012, 13,391 people immigrated to Manitoba, while in 2011, 15,963 immigrated to the province.
Rabeya Sultan immigrated to Manitoba from Bangladesh to complete her degree.
'It is going to be drastic in terms of economic growth and impact.'—Fatima Soares, executive director of Manitoba Start
In 2010, she graduated, and two years later she became a permanent resident.
“I’m grateful I am here, that I had the education, that I was able to become independent,” said Sultan.
“I am very grateful to Canada.”
Sultan, like many other immigrants, used the Provincial Nominee Program to get into the province.
Nominee program changed
Manitoba has previously had a strong track record of attracting large numbers of immigrants, but provincial officials warned those numbers could wane with recent changes made by the federal government.
'We would really like to see Ottawa give us more ability to bring people in regardless of family size'—Manitoba immigration minister Christine Melnick
The Conservative government announced changes to immigration services in their 2012 budget, cancelling its shared settlement services agreement with the province. Those changes take effect April 1.
Manitoba's immigration minister Christine Melnick said Wednesday the drop is the result of the federal government putting a cap on the number of new applications at 5,000 annually for the provincial nominee program.
“Ottawa has imposed a cap of 5,000 applicants per year. We have no problem reaching that 5,000 applicant number,” said Melnick. "We would really like to see Ottawa lift that cap."
Successful nominees are able to bring immediate family members with them. Melnick said recently successful nominess have smaller families than in the past, which is leading to the lower numbers.
Where Manitoba used to bring large families from Germany to settle in southern Manitoba, the federal government is now accepting more single people and international students.
“We would really like to see Ottawa give us more ability to bring more people in regardless of family size and that would be the best way to increase numbers here in Manitoba," said Melnick.
'We’re seeing a broad variety of professionals, a broader variety of skill sets coming in.'—Manitoba immigration minister Christine Melnick
Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative party said the blame for the low numbers didn’t have to do with the federal government but sat on the back of the provincial NDP party.
Tory officials released a statement Wednesday hinting high taxes could be keeping immigrants away.
Provincial officials said since the nominee program began in 1999, more than 100,000 people have immigrated to Manitoba.
Fatima Soares is executive director of Manitoba Start, an organization that helps immigrants in Winnipeg become permanent residents.
She said the impact from fewer immigrants will be felt province-wide.
“It is going to be drastic in terms of economic growth and impact,” said Soares.
Soares said the province needs immigrants to support its workforce.
“This is the first year where there is a higher number of retirees than new entrants [into the worforce]. So that in itself is going to impact economic growth,” said Soares.
Melnick said immigrants represent a key component of Manitoba’s workforce.
“We’re seeing a broad variety of professionals, a broader variety of skill sets coming in and smaller family sizes,” she said.
Melnick said the province is hoping to attract at least 75,000 skilled workers to Manitoba in the next seven years.
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