Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Filipinos transform Manitoba
Province's community reaches 60,000 due to immigration boom over last five years
Fuelled by the extraordinary success of the provincial nominee immigration program, Manitoba's Filipino community has exploded to nearly 60,000 people, a 50 per cent increase in the last five years alone.
Although data from the 2011 census will not be available until early next year, the most recent provincial statistics show an additional 19,108 immigrants from the Philippines arrived in Manitoba over the past five years. That's a 50 per cent increase to the province's existing Filipino community, which was pegged at just over 38,000 by the 2006 census.
Immigration Minister Christine Melnick said the increased number of Filipinos coming to Manitoba is a source of pride for all in the province.
"This is a real success story," Melnick said. "This is proof that we have a good reputation within the Philippines and a very strong Filipino community here."
The gross majority of those new Filipino immigrants were applicants and dependants who used the provincial nominee program (PNP). This program allows provinces to directly recruit workers with specific job skills to fill specific needs in their labour markets. Many of these applicants would not qualify under the skilled worker stream of the federal government's immigration program.
Fred De Villa, a Filipino community activist and longtime immigration advocate, said Manitoba has become a preferred destination for those looking to leave the Philippines because of the province's existing Filipino community and the relatively low cost of living.
Although there may be more Filipinos in Vancouver or Toronto, they are spread out over a much larger geographic area, making it harder for new arrivals to plug into the local community. In Manitoba, newly arrived Filipinos easily find a support system that includes Filipino culture, food, music, news and services. The cost of housing and other necessities is also much more affordable in Manitoba, a big draw for many Filipinos.
"Winnipeg may not be known as much as some of the other cities in Canada, but for those Filipinos looking for a good life and lots of support, this is the place to come," De Villa said.
De Villa said he is concerned, however, about the future of the PNP. The federal government has resisted Manitoba's requests to increase its annual quota of PNP applicants while also signalling Manitoba may have to share the total national quota with other provinces, such as Ontario.
No other province has recruited as heavily through the provincial nominee program as Manitoba. Each year, Manitoba receives about 5,000 PNP applicants. With dependants included, between 7,000 and 8,000 PNP applicants arrive in Manitoba each year.
Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said he wants all streams of immigration to put a higher emphasis on language skills, which is not weighted as heavily in the PNP. Melnick said Kenney has not signalled to Manitoba whether there will be changes in PNP eligibility, or what quota the province will get for the upcoming year.
The influence of the PNP on the Filipino community has been extraordinary. According to the latest census data, one in 10 Filipino-Canadians lives in Manitoba, giving the province the third-largest Filipino community in Canada, behind only Toronto and Vancouver. As a percentage of total population, Vancouver leads the pack with more than 10 per cent of its metropolitan population reporting as Filipino. However, among similarly sized cities, Winnipeg's Filipino community is larger in both percentage and sheer numbers.
With its numbers sure to exceed 60,000 this year, Manitoba's Filipino community is likely to represent nearly 10 per cent of the Winnipeg population. It is also likely to make Manitoba's Filipino community comparable in size to Vancouver's, which numbered 78,000 in the last census.
Filipino migration to Manitoba -- by the numbers
1959 -- Four Filipino nurses arrive. Two still live here, but two others returned to the United States. Followed that same year by doctors, other nurses and teachers.
1960-67 -- numbers so low Canadian government doesn't put tally in separate category
1967 -- 181
1968 -- 249
(First wave of garment workers from the Philippines.)
1969 -- 524
(Second wave of garment workers from both the Philippines and the Netherlands.)
1970 -- 275
1971 -- 539
1972 -- 899
1973 -- 1,135
1974 -- 1,578
1975 -- 941
1976 -- 791
1977 -- 991
1978 -- 591
1979 -- 943
(Smaller waves of garment workers starting this year and lasting until mid-1980s.)
1980 -- 1,600
(Philippine Consulate opens in Winnipeg.)
1981 -- 1,125
1982 -- 1,005
1983 -- 855
1984 -- 495
1985 -- 350
1986 -- 575
1987 -- 965
1988 -- 840
1989 -- 1,350
1990 -- 1,420
1991 -- 970
1992 -- 1,015
1993 -- 1,330
1994 -- 920
1995 -- 635
1996 -- 835
1997 -- 715
1998 -- 430
1999 -- 560
(Nurses begin being recruited under the province's provincial nominee program. This has continued to the present. Other skilled immigrants also arrive. Winnipeg and Manila are twinned while Bill Norrie is mayor.)
2000 -- 725
2001 -- 695
2002 -- 780
2003 -- 1,225
2004 -- 1,560
2005 -- 1,875
2006 -- 2,605
2007 -- 3,335
2008 -- 2,745
2009 -- 4,385
2010 -- 5,485
2011 (to Sept.) -- 5,275
-- source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba; compiled by Kevin Rollason
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2012 A3
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