Nominee program changed face of Manitoba

When Gary Filmon joins his wife, Lt.-Gov Janice Filmon, at parades and festivals in Manitoba, he gets to see the fruits of his labour from when he was premier more than 20 years ago.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/11/2018 (1479 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When Gary Filmon joins his wife, Lt.-Gov Janice Filmon, at parades and festivals in Manitoba, he gets to see the fruits of his labour from when he was premier more than 20 years ago.

“You see the difference in the diversity,” Filmon said Thursday at an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Manitoba’s provincial nominee program. It was set up in 1998 to bring skilled workers from around the world to Manitoba to fill jobs and grow the economy. At the time, the population was aging and the province was at risk of losing more people than it was gaining.

Filmon’s government spent seven years wrangling with the federal government, which controls immigration for Manitoba, to have more say in attracting and retaining skilled immigrants with ties to Manitoba.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Former Manitoba Premier, Gary Filmon, speaks to a crowd of supporters in the Rotunda at the Legislative Building about the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and its benefits to the community on its 20th anniversary, Thursday.

Since it began, the program has brought more than 130,000 immigrants to Manitoba and prevented a 30 per cent drop in the gross domestic product, says the Conference Board of Canada. It was a successful public policy decision and not just for economic reasons, Filmon said.

“It has really transformed life in our communities in many ways. It’s made us much more open to the world and much more aware of the world by virtue of the people who are coming and joining us and making a commitment to Canada and Manitoba,” Filmon told the crowd in the legislature rotunda.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Husband and wife Magdalena and Pawel Sztobryn attended the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program celebration at the Legislative Building, Thursday. The Sztobryn's are excited to make their home here in Winnipeg once they become Canadian citizens.

In 2012, the program brought Pawel and Magdalena Sztobryn of Gdansk, Poland, to Winnipeg. He’s a computer engineer and she has a tourism and recreation degree. They made the city home and their two young sons were both born in Winnipeg. They’ve applied for Canadian citizenship and said they look forward to owning a home one day.

“We feel good here,” said Pawel, who’s joined the Canadian Polish Congress and started a Facebook page to help others who are interested in immigrating to Canada from Poland.

The biggest source country for the provincial nominee program has been the Philippines, with 38,000 nominees arriving from there in the last decade.

Elaine Verri’s family arrived in 2014 after being sponsored by her dad’s cousin in 2012. She said she knew little about Winnipeg before she arrived. Her first impression was its multiculturalism. “It’s a very diverse community,” Verri said. “I was very excited but I was very nervous,” said Verri who credits a career coach at Manitoba Start with helping her put her human resources skills and experience to work.

More than 70 per cent of approved nominees choose Winnipeg as their settlement destination, said city Coun. Markus Chambers, who worked for the provincial nominee program for 17 years before taking a leave to run in the newly created St. Norbert-Seine River ward.

Provincial nominees add up

130,000 nominees arrived in Manitoba in last 20 years

38,000 Philippines,

21,000 India

10,000 China

hundreds from countries including Germany, Israel, Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ukraine and Poland


130,000 nominees arrived in Manitoba in last 20 years

38,000 Philippines,

21,000 India

10,000 China

hundreds from countries including Germany, Israel, Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ukraine and Poland

Where’d they go?

90 per cent found jobs in their first year

nearly 90 per cent stayed in Manitoba

28,000 have settled in 130 rural communities including Morden, Neepawa, Steinbach and Winkler

Manitoba has had a net deficit of interprovincial migration since 1984, but its population has grown since 2006, thanks to positive net migration.

International immigration fuelled nearly one-third of total population growth over the last decade, a share that’s expected to rise through 2040.

Immigration accounted for 81 per cent of Winnipeg’s population growth in 2015-16, and is projected to rise to 92 per cent by 2039-40.

Increasing the population is key to the long-term economic prospects for the province, as it creates confidence for investing in productive capacity and expanding domestic demand.

Manitoba’s population is forecast to remain younger than Canada’s as a whole, but the proportion of Manitobans aged 65 and older is expected to grow to more than 20 per cent by 2040.

Source: Manitoba Education and Training, Conference Board of Canada

“As newcomers are establishing in our communities and bringing their talents, they are purchasing goods and services that help spur the economy,” Chambers said. “I look at all the housing starts in my area and adjoining neighbourhoods and note immigration has been a driving factor in why this is happening,” said Chambers.

Chambers’ help was applauded by the Sztobryns of Poland and Chris Simair, CEO of Skip the Dishes, which has relied on the program to recruit IT professionals.

“The (program) saw the trend and the need for these positions, and has also worked successfully with companies like Ubisoft and other stakeholders to attract high-paid, high-skilled positions to this city.”

It’s working to increase the number of university graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations to address critical employment shortages in Manitoba, said Chambers.

“I’m certainly very proud of this program,” Filmon said in an interview after being lauded in the legislature rotunda by Steinbach MLA and the minister responsible for the program, Kelvin Goertzen.

“It’s really changed the look of Manitoba. It’s changed the feel of Manitoba. It’s changed the dynamics of Manitoba, and there’s a reason why we’re being recognized as a place people want to visit, want to live and raise a family,” said Goertzen.

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

Report Error Submit a Tip