Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

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Manitoba's decade-long immigration phenomenon is an economic success story. The statistics on unemployment and welfare dependency bear that out. More of its new citizens enter and stay in the labour force than in other provinces and fewer rely on social assistance.

Manitoba's economy is resistant to economic busts, but does not boom like its western counterparts. It is a bit like the chicken/egg quandary, but immigration has benefited from, and contributes to, the province's slow-but-sure economic growth.

Manitoba, through its own nominee program, aggressively pursues immigrants with labour skills. They make up to 75 per cent of newcomers. That may explain why newcomers here participate in greater numbers in the labour force than immigrants to Canada generally.

Equally encouraging is that fewer immigrants lean on social assistance, in all classes including refugees, as compared to the Canadian immigrant average, and particularly noticeable are the differences in welfare rates among refugees.

The percentage of Manitoba's skilled-worker immigrants on welfare, however, has risen since 1992, which may simply reflect their dramatically rising number.

Manitoba intends to welcome 20,000 immigrants annually by 2016. The policy to pursue skilled workers, tied to the needs of Manitoba, has served this economy well. It is a model for other provinces.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2011 A10

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