Cancellation of PNP entrepreneur program comes as 'shock' to Montague CAO

Andy Daggett said he was shocked by the announcement the province was shutting down the PNP immigration entrepreneur program. He said he had just met with clients who were interested in setting up a business in Montague under the program when he heard it was being cancelled.

Andy Daggett says program has been good for population growth

Montague CAO Andy Daggett says the point system used in the PNP entrepreneur program was helping drive newcomers to rural areas. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Andy Daggett said he was shocked by the announcement Wednesday, that the province was shutting down the PNP immigration entrepreneur program. He said he had just met with clients who were interested in setting up a business in Montague under the program when he heard it was being cancelled.

"They just got out of the office after the meeting and one of my staff said, 'Did you see the latest news?' And I had no indication it was coming in any way, shape or form, so yeah it certainly came as a shock."

The program may have had its flaws but it's pretty hard to argue that it didn't certainly increase the growth on P.E.I. when you see the immigration numbers.— Andy Daggett

Daggett said despite the well publicized problems associated with the Provincial Nominee Program, it has been good for the Island's growth.

"The program may have had its flaws but it's pretty hard to argue that it didn't certainly increase the growth on P.E.I. when you see the immigration numbers."

Last November the province announced it was partnering with communities outside of Charlottetown, Cornwall and Stratford to endorse immigrants applying to come to the Island.

The office of immigration also changed its process for assessing PNP applications. The new model awarded applicants points based on their skills, language abilities, business plans, and gave extra points to immigrants to settle in rural areas.

Points system helped rural areas, says Daggett

That work then fell to the communities. They received applications and did interviews — deciding what proposals to put forward to the province.

Montague was particularly busy.

Daggett said the town already has roughly a dozen PNP immigrants approved to come to Montague. And he's putting forward another 40 applicants, some of which he hopes will also be approved.

"If you're trying to get clients to look outside — trying to get people to immigrate to areas outside of Charlottetown and the immediate surrounding area — that point system was kind of the crucial element in that and not having that may be more difficult," Daggett said.

"It's what's driving people to look at Montague, Alberton, O'Leary, even Summerside is considered in that rural area."

Don't want 'somebody purchasing their citizenship'

At the same time, Daggett said he isn't opposed to rules requiring immigrants to come to P.E.I. first, set up shop, and meet various criteria before being nominated for permanent residency.

"I don't think it's a bad thing to make people prove their mettle.… What you don't want is somebody purchasing their citizenship," Daggett said. "There's nothing wrong with putting some controls in place and having a certain criteria that has to be met."

The province says there will be one final draw for the program on Sept. 20, with a maximum of 10 applicants selected. That last draw, said government, is to provide adequate notice.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Donna Allen

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.