Manitoba

Money collected through newcomer application fees far outstrips announced spending

The amount of money the province announced it was spending on newcomer services last week doesn’t reflect the total amount collected through fees from the provincial nominee program.

Almost $5M raised so far; province announced it's allocating $3.1M for newcomer supports

A class of newcomers at the Enhanced English Skills for Employment program in Winnipeg do a body language exercise during their language class. (Brett Purdy)

The amount of money the province announced it was spending on newcomer services last week is much less than the total amount collected through fees from the provincial nominee program.

Last week, the province announced it was spending $3.1 million to support newcomer services across Manitoba, using money generated from program application fees.

In response to a freedom of information request filed by the NDP, however, the province revealed it had taken in nearly $5 million from those fees since the start of 2017.

"Newcomers to Manitoba need services like English as an additional language sometimes, they need other transitional supports, so that they can dive right into the economy and contirbute to their full potential," said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. "So with the government sitting on this extra money, not all of those transitional supports are going to be there."

A spokesperson for the provincial government told CBC News the money will still be used to support newcomers.

"Revenues generated by [Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program] have been invested into the new service agreements announced last week, and also to support the program improve its overall service standards, which include meeting the commitment to ensure all complete applications are assessed in less than six months," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

In November 2016, the province introduced a $500 application fee for skilled workers, in addition to an existing $2,500 application fee for businesses.

The province is distributing the funds to 17 organizations across Manitoba.

In 2018, the provincial nominee program issued 5,207 nominations. In 2019, it can select up to 6,000 new provincial nominees and their families, with 250 of these spaces set aside for semi-skilled workers who have a high school education and some work experience.

The provincial nominee program was introduced in 1998.

With files from Ian Froese

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