New provincial nominee program for P.E.I.

Program will expedite visas for up to 400 immigrants who invest in Island businesses

Prince Edward Island will soon have a new provincial nominee program (PNP) to help bring immigrants to Canada's smallest province.

Details of the new PNP will be announced within the next month, said Innovation Minister Allan Campbell.

The old program, which prompted an RCMP review and a provincial auditor general investigation, offered expedited Canadian visas to immigrants who invested $200,000 into a P.E.I. business.

The program ran from 2001 to 2008 and 1,877 immigrants entered the province under the program in its final year, nearly double the number in 2007.

The auditor general investigation revealed a serious lack of oversight by the province. Senior bureaucrats in the government broke or sidestepped the rules, changed the program's rules without getting approval and approved businesses for the program that didn't qualify, said auditor general Colin Younker.

The RCMP dropped its review, citing insufficient evidence.

Under the new program, immigrants will be able to buy a one-third ownership in a company or invest $1 million, as a loan, for five years.

There will also be a federally imposed cap of 400 immigrants who will be able to enter the province under the program, said Campbell.

The eligibility details are still being worked out, he said. However, one significant change is that farmers and fishermen will be eligible under the new program.

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