Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Filipinos transform Manitoba

Province's community reaches 60,000 due to immigration boom over last five years

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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.

dan.lett@freepress.mb.ca

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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