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Immigration disappears from cabinet titles

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Immigration will become the responsibility of Ian Wishart, minister of education and training, within the new provincial government. </p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Immigration will become the responsibility of Ian Wishart, minister of education and training, within the new provincial government.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/5/2016 (470 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Remember Manitoba Labour and Immigration?

On Tuesday, the provincial department was swallowed up by Premier Brian Pallister’s new, smaller cabinet, but business leaders and immigration advocates aren’t choked that "immigration" is no longer in the title of a department.

"I believe it does have a prominent role," said Don Leitch, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Manitoba. Labour will be taken over by the Department of Growth, Enterprise and Trade.

Immigration will be transferred into Education and Training.

When the council met with Manitoba’s former finance minister and then-opposition leader Pallister during pre-budget consultations, immigration played a major role in the council’s growth strategy for the province, Leitch said.

"(Pallister) understood and knew it ties into economic growth," said Leitch, who served as Manitoba’s clerk of the executive council from 1988 to 1999 and was the top civil servant in the Gary Filmon government.

Immigration will become the responsibility of Ian Wishart, minister of education and training.

Leitch said the immigration division and one of its assistant deputy ministers will be assigned to the new minister and report to his deputy minister.

The president of the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations was waiting Tuesday to find out more about the new provincial government’s plans for immigration.

"At this point, we’re looking forward to an ongoing partnership with the government on immigration issues," said Laurie Sawatzky in Winkler. She said she was emailing her Morden-Winkler MLA, newly minted Finance Minister Cameron Friesen, to try to get some information.

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce was waiting for answers about the new cabinet.

"We need more information on what the portfolios are going to encompass," said president and CEO Chuck Davidson. Labour and immigration issues are vital to Manitoba’s economy, he said.

"It leads us to wonder where they fit in the ministerial hierarchy," Davidson said.

The province has been one of the leaders in economic growth in Canada thanks in large part to immigration and Manitoba’s provincial nominee program, which accounts for nearly 70 per cent of all immigration to the province.

"We’ve done a terrific job of attracting more people with skills to this province — it’s something we can be proud of but the workforce shortage is not going away," Davidson said.

Davidson said he didn’t want to read too much into the department names that were left out.

"Reducing the cabinet to 12, that was going to be one of the tradeoffs," he said.

The names of the departments had to be shortened, too, otherwise they’d each be "three sentences long," he added.

Longtime refugee advocate Tom Denton said he’s seen "immigration" disappear then reappear from the title of government departments.

"I wouldn’t read anything into it," said Denton, executive director of Hospitality House Refugee Ministry in Winnipeg. "The provincial government has always been a small player because it’s the federal government that calls the shots."

Ottawa decides how many newcomers Manitoba will receive and has the final say on who gets into Canada. Provincial agencies provide the services that help them once they get here.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Carol Sanders  .

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History

Updated on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 7:29 PM CDT: Corrects typo

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