PEI

Before scrapping entrepreneur stream, P.E.I. applied for new PNP stream for students

A proposal from the P.E.I. government to launch a new “graduate student entrepreneur stream” of its provincial nominee program was met with questions and concerns from federal bureaucrats in Ottawa.

P.E.I.’s proposal raised concerns, questions in Ottawa

Ottawa says P.E.I.’s proposal for a PNP graduate student entrepreneur stream did not meet minimum requirements which had been set out in similar programs launched in other provinces. (CBC)

A proposal from the P.E.I. government to launch a new "graduate student entrepreneur stream" of its provincial nominee program was met with questions and concerns from federal bureaucrats in Ottawa.

CBC learned of the proposal through a federal access-to-information request.

The copy of the proposal CBC received did not include the date. A spokesperson for the province said it was submitted "a couple years ago."

According to the documents, P.E.I. only expected to nominate up to 15 candidates per year through the new program, accounting for between two to three per cent of the province's total PNP nominations.

The new stream would have allowed recent international graduates from Island post-secondary institutions to become provincial nominees if they had owned and operated a local business for one year before applying.

Did not meet minimum requirements

But bureaucrats in Ottawa said P.E.I.'s proposal did not meet minimum requirements, which had been set out in similar programs launched in other provinces.

"The absence of a language requirement is problematic and does not meet the minimum requirements," was one comment from staff at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Are the criteria so lax that you'll approve 75% of applications?— Question to P.E.I. government from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

IRCC also said the age limit for the stream of 59 "should be much lower," concluding that "to protect the stream from abuse, the upper limit should be set at 40."

Staff also questioned the rationale put forward to justify the program along with the numbers put forward by the province, suggesting it would select 10-15 nominations per year from a pool of 15-20 applications received.

"Are the criteria so lax that you'll approve 75% of applications?" staff at IRCC wrote in their assessment of the program.

Another program created

Overall IRCC staff said P.E.I.'s proposal was incomplete and asked the province to resubmit its proposal while answering dozens of further questions posed by IRCC staff, including:

  • What kinds of businesses would be ineligible for the program?
  • What kind of post-nomination monitoring would P.E.I. conduct?
  • How would the province determine whether the businesses were financially sustainable?
  • What penalties would there be for program participants who misrepresented themselves?

According to IRCC, the province wanted to open the new stream as soon as possible. But it's not clear if the province responded to the federal government's concerns.

A spokesperson for the province said P.E.I. chose not to pursue the new student entrepreneur stream. Another program was created for international graduates under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, although it's not for student business owners.

In September, the province announced an end to its existing entrepreneur stream under the PNP.  At the time the province's Minister of Economic Development Chris Palmer said that program "wasn't meeting the expectations of Islanders, and it wasn't meeting the expectations of government."

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About the Author

Kerry Campbell

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Kerry Campbell is the provincial affairs reporter for CBC P.E.I., covering politics and the provincial legislature. kerry.campbell@cbc.ca

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