New fee for provincial nominees as province looks to clear backlog

Premier Brian Pallister plans to have a backlog of provincial nominee program applications cleared by the April 2017.

Once accepted, will have to pay up to $500; will go to language training and resources

Premier Brian Pallister talks with Joy Escalera, who came to Manitoba though the provincial nominee program, at a press conference in Brandon on Friday. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Premier Brian Pallister plans to have a backlog of provincial nominee program applications cleared by April 2017.

Pallister made the announcement in Brandon Friday afternoon, saying that the program will be improved under the Progressive Conservative government.

"We need to do a better job of helping with the skill development," Pallister said. "A significant number of PNP [provincial nominee program] nominees have not been able to find work within a reasonable period of time." 

"We've got to do a better job of helping them land on their feet when the come here." 

More than 4,000 nominee applications are still waiting for a response from the province, down from more than 8,000 at the beginning of the year — some dating back to 2008, according to Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart. 

As part of the changes, nominees will also have to pay a new fee once they have been accepted into the program. Wishart said the fee will be a maximum of $500 and will be paid only once applicants are accepted. 

Applicants currently pay no fee. 

Pallister said revenue from the fee will go toward language training resources as well as assisting refugees and their families. 

He said improving the program will help fill the estimated 200,000 jobs that will need to be filled in the province during the next five years. At least 25 per cent will be filled be immigrants, according to Pallister. 

"We're not doing anybody any favours by taking them from a rough situation in a foreign country and bringing them here and putting them in a rough situation," Pallister said. "We have to make sure there are job opportunities so people can support themselves." 

Pallister said nominee applications will be processed within six months going forward.