May 17, 2019 – The Manitoba government is planning a raft of new measures to increase the number of Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program immigrants settling in rural areas.
The province is set to role out a rural immigration toolkit in the coming weeks, aimed at communities new to the immigration process.
Designed to help employers and community leaders in rural areas, the toolkit is intended to help recruit, welcome and integrate newcomers to smaller towns in Manitoba.
“We want to work with our rural partners to continue building on our immigration success story,” Kelvin Goertzen, Manitoba Minister of Education and Training, wrote in an article published on the MPNP website.
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Increasing immigration to rural areas is an important challenge across Canada. Smaller towns are at the acute end of Canada’s demographic challenge, based around an aging population and lower fertility rate.
Over the last 20 years, 20 per cent of the 130,000 MPNP immigrants have settled in rural areas. The province now wants to build on this figure.
Important measures for employers include:
- Giving employers input into applicant selection and hiring from applicant pools.
- Increasing the direct recruitment of foreign workers by improving employer access to Labour Market Impact Assessment-exempt work permits under the MPNP.
- Expanding recruitment through international recruitment events and the hiring of workers on exploratory visits.
- Streamlining the recruitment of higher skilled, higher wage workers.
Meanwhile, the province is also in discussions with the federal government to launch a new rural investment immigration stream, like the one launched recently in British Columbia.
Manitoba already offers a lower investment requirement and more points for rural projects through the existing Business Investor Stream.
Business Investor Stream, Entrepreneur Pathway: Investment Requirements
- Minimum investment of $250,000 for businesses situated in the Manitoba Capital Region.
- Minimum investment of $150,000 if a business is situated outside of the Manitoba Capital Region.
The province also plans to implement a formal public commitment to invest MPNP application fee revenues in integration projects for newcomers, including in rural areas.
Manitoba plans to renew and modernize the current Canada-Manitoba Immigration Agreement, signed in 2003.
In doing so, the province wants to prioritize rural economic development by improving flexibility and moving away from what it describes as the federal ‘one size fits all’ approach.
“If communities can demonstrate the ability to support the success of newcomers, not all of whom may meet minimum requirements, the MPNP needs to have the flexibility to respond,” Goertzen wrote.
20 Years of the MPNP In Numbers
- Without the MPNP, Manitoba’s GDP growth would be up to 30% lower.
- Over 90% of Provincial Nominees are employed within their first year in Manitoba.
- Manitoba retains almost 90% of Provincial Nominees.
- More than 130,000 Provincial Nominees have landed since 1998.
- More than $308 million invested in Manitoba by MPNP Business nominees.
- Over 90% of economic immigrants to Manitoba arrive through the MPNP
The province also sees the discrepancy in processing times between federal and provincial candidates as unfair.
Given the province welcomes 90 per cent of its economic immigration intake through the MPNP, decreasing provincial candidate processing times is a priority.
“We need to address the inherent unfairness that applicants to federal programs (mostly going to larger cities and provinces) are processed within six months for a permanent visa while most provincial nominees have to wait for as long 18 months for the same visa,” said Goertzen.
“This delays the arrival of newcomers to our rural communities and employers, and unnecessarily and unfairly delays these families from contributing their skills and investments to our economy.”
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