Provincial and federal government power struggle over the provincial nominee program

Provincial nominee program power struggle


Canada is in need of thousands of skilled workers to fill a labour shortage, but somehow in a time of great need, why are 280,000 Federal Skilled Worker applications being returned? The Provinces are desperately trying to negotiate with the Federal government to raise the cap on skilled worker applications through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), but the Federal government doesn’t want to let the provinces have more control over their own immigration. There is an obvious power struggle between the Federal and Provincial governments and a great divide exists.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is a national immigration strategy designed to help skilled workers and business immigrants gain permanent residence in Canada. The process can fast-track those who qualify. The problem lies with the fact that the Federal Government doesn’t want the provinces to have too much control over immigration and undermine Federal government immigration initiatives. In an Edmonton Journal article entitled, “Kenney Rejects Alberta Push for greater say in immigration” February 9, 2012 captured by Peter O’Neil and James Wood, Jason Kenney said:

“I would hope that the province would be grateful for the massive increase in provincial selection of immigration that we have facilitated.”

This comment is in reference to the fact that in Alberta the PNP program nominated 400 applications in 2005 and these numbers have increased to approximately 7,400 in 2011. For more details see : Kenney rejects Alberta push for greater say in immigration.

In a November 7, 2011 New Release, Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) “Canada Plans to Admit More Provincial Nominees in 2012”, it highlights how CIC consults regularly with the provinces, “it recognizes the crucial role that the PNP plays in meeting local labour market needs” and that the various level of governments are “moving towards a multi-year levels planning approach for 2013 and beyond”. For more details see : News Release – Canada Plans to Admit More Provincial Nominees in 2012

But are provinces getting an increase in Provincial Nominee numbers as promised?

The concern is that measures to address skilled labour shortages come at a Federal level and the provinces have little power to deal with a labour crisis when it happens. At the present time in Alberta, Minister Dave Hancock who is responsible for Human Services is interested in raising the number of Provincial Nominees from 5,000 to 10,000 per year. The Federal government is not interested in looking at this right now because it is focusing on its own initiatives such as rolling out a federal skilled worker program introducing a “skilled trades” stream to deal with the labour crisis. The Provinces have recently been given a quick and dirty expedited 10 day Labor Market Opinion for employers can hire skilled Temporary Foreign Workers faster, but not an increase in real permanent resident considerations under PNP.

We can only hope that our governments are speaking the same language when they consult about labour shortages. Which trades will be considered?  What kind of foreign credential recognition or trade recognition is going to take place? Will the Trade Industry regulatory bodies be able to deal with the demand of this new “skilled trades” stream? I am always skeptical about Federal Government changes that don’t consider the provincial limitations to recognize foreign credentials and worker protections. Yes, a great divide remains between our political governing powers. Perhaps our immigration future will be about dividing and conquering. And then what will we be grateful for?

Tereen Andriuk
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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