Immigration levels imbalanced: Toews

Says province gets more than its share

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Manitoba's top federal MP waded into the simmering immigration feud between the Selinger government and Ottawa Friday when he suggested the province has seen more than its share of newcomers compared to other provinces.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/04/2012 (3875 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba’s top federal MP waded into the simmering immigration feud between the Selinger government and Ottawa Friday when he suggested the province has seen more than its share of newcomers compared to other provinces.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews also told a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon the success of immigration to Manitoba is due more to the Harper government than the province.

“Our government has nearly tripled the size of Manitoba’s Provincial Nominee Program from around 4,700 people in 2005 to nearly 12,200 in 2011,” he said. “Manitoba’s proportion of all nominations under the program was 24 per cent in 2001, 24 per cent considering we have a population here of four per cent of Canada’s population.”

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS MP Vic Toews says more money could go to settlement groups if the system is streamlined under federal control.

Toews’ comments came on the same day the opposition in Manitoba’s legislature successfully used a week of procedural wrangling to delay a vote on the Selinger government’s new budget. The vote was supposed to take place on Friday, but was delayed until Monday because of bad blood between the parties over the immigration file.

It centered on an April 18 memo from Ben Rempel, assistant deputy minister of immigration, to provincial immigration workers asking for them to be at the legislative building the next day to hear debate over an NDP motion condemning the pending federal takeover of immigration settlement services, services mostly paid for by Ottawa, but for more than a decade administered by the province.

The province argues its role in running settlement services is crucial to the success of its Provincial Nominee Program, which allows the province to nominate immigrants whose skills match provincial needs and is one of the reasons for the increase in the number of newcomers to Manitoba in recent years.

Toews said Ottawa wants to cut duplication by not having the province run federally funded programs.

“Hopefully, we will see actually more money going to immigration groups as a result of the elimination of one administrative layer,” he said after his speech.

In his speech, Toews said since the Harper government came to power in 2006 about 254,000 immigrants have come to Canada each year.

“Think of that — every three years we are reproducing the City of Winnipeg in terms of population in Canada,” he said. “This is the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history.”

Toews also told a friendly crowd at Canad Inns Polo Park the Harper government will continue to speed up the environmental approval process for large projects by bringing in fixed timelines for reviews. The changes are to be part of the government’s omnibus budget legislation, which it aims to pass before the House of Commons rises for the summer at the end of June.

“It is estimated that there could be more than 500 major projects representing some $500 billion worth of new investments in our energy and mining industries over the next decade,” Toews said. “The potential for job creation and economic growth is enormous.

“We need a system that ensures timely, efficient and effective reviews.”

Toews also spoke briefly about a pending free trade deal with the European Union. He’s just one of several Tory MPs, cabinet ministers and senators who hit the road this week to sell the benefits of the deal to Canadians.

“A joint study with the European Union shows that an agreement would boost Canada’s total trade with the EU by as much as 20 per cent and grow our economy by up to $12 billion,” he said.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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