'Chronic mismanagement' of immigration defines P.E.I. government, Opposition charges

An investigation by Canada Border Services Agency into alleged immigration fraud on P.E.I. dominated question period Wednesday.

Canada Border Services Agency has laid charges in 7 cases

James Aylward called the charges brought by CBSA alarming. (Province of P.E.I.)

An investigation by Canada Border Services Agency into alleged immigration fraud on P.E.I. dominated question period Wednesday.

Applications for search warrants by Canada Border Services Agency allege that 566 people who came through P.E.I.'s provincial nominee program used two Island addresses in their applications for residency.

According to CBSA, the province sponsored almost all of these applicants for permanent residency.

The opposition made the case that shows a lack of due diligence on the part of the province.

"The chronic mismanagement in our immigration programs has been one of this government's defining achievements over the last 11 years," said PC Leader James Aylward.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan responded that immigration is growing in the province, and doing good things.

"We can go on and point to all of the ways in which our immigration is successful," said MacLauchlan.

"People are here. They are doing well. Our province is growing."

How is residency verified?

PC MLA Matthew MacKay pressed the matter further with questions for Economic Development Minister Chris Palmer. He wanted to know how the province verifies the residency of provincial nominees.

"The current information that's required that we receive from applicants is lease agreements, tax returns, utility bills, proving P.E.I. residency, letters from school, Visa or Mastercard statements and other information that proves P.E.I. residency," said Palmer.

Economic Development Minister Chris Palmer said the charges stem from a previous version of the immigration program. (Province of P.E.I.)

Palmer said the PNP applications in question were made under the 2008 version of the program, and that's been changed. Some of those changes were made in response to a report from the provincial auditor general in 2009.

Island Investment Development Inc., which is the the Crown corporation that runs PNP, told CBC News it's added further requirements to confirm addresses provided by those participating in the program, including the submission of tax returns. The agency said it also conducts more site visits to ensure participants are residing in P.E.I. 

Palmer also said P.E.I.'s records only show 17 people in the program provided the Sherwood Motel, one of the addresses in question, as their home address.

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With files from Kerry Campbell