The federal government is moving to strengthen national responsibility for the delivery of settlement services across Canada, according to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
That means the government is resuming the management of federally funded settlement programs in British Columbia and Manitoba, bringing these programs in line with every other province and territory outside Quebec.
“Our government is not only committed to ensuring that each region of Canada receives a fair share of funding, but also that immigrants have access to a more consistent level of services regardless of where they choose to settle in Canada,” said Kenney.
The agreements with B.C. and Manitoba were signed at a time when the federal government was reducing its investment in settlement services. However, since 2005–2006, the federal government has tripled its investment in settlement services outside of Quebec, increasing them by three times in B.C. and four times in Manitoba, it said.
In keeping with the terms of each existing agreement, the change will happen in one year’s time in Manitoba and in two years’ time in B.C. The transition will ensure services being provided to newcomers continue without disruption.
This change will not affect basic settlement funding for either province and funding for newcomers in British Columbia and Manitoba will increase significantly in 2012–2013 compared to the previous year, said the government.
“The vast majority of Canadians agree that integration programs for newcomers are an essential part of nation-building. While we look forward to working closely with the provinces in delivering these programs, we believe it is important to avoid the development of a patchwork approach to the important work of settling new Canadians,” said Kenney.
Roundtable discussions on Immigrant Investment in Canada
The federal government is also holding roundtable discussions around Canada’s Immigrant Investor Program, which undervalues the importance of Canadian citizenship and fails to ensure new investors are investing actively in the Canadian economy, he said.
“We will consult on changes to ensure that investments by immigrant investors contribute more effectively to growing our economy and creating jobs for Canadians.”
The government will introduce changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow the minister of immigration to rapidly create specialized programs. One such program could be a program to rapidly attract new investors to Canada.
“Our goal is to have immigrant investor programs that attract immigrants who want to invest in Canada’s future,” said Kenney. “We can no longer be a passive player in the global competition for talent and investment. That is why we need to review and amend our immigration laws to create dynamic programs that allow immigrants’ investments to directly benefit the Canadian economy. I am open to creative ideas and suggestions from the business community on how to maximize the economic benefits of such programs to Canada.”
Kenney will be consulting to determine how best to target high-value global investors, unlike the current program, which essentially requires a five-year, interest-free loan to provincial and territorial governments for economic development activities. The minister will consult with Canadians about whether the government should use its powers under the amended Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to create programs that have a far greater impact on Canada’s economy, such as favouring active use of investment capital to promote economic growth.