The Premiers of three Western provinces are banding together to push Ottawa toward allowing more autonomy in immigration matters.
Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia each are facing massive labour shortages in the coming years, which could harm their economic growth if not addressed. The provinces see Quebec as a model for the potential in provincial immigration jurisdiction.
“We are well-positioned but we need to have a national discussion about what further tools provinces need to grow the national economy,” said B.C. Premier Christy Clark.“The biggest one for us in the West is immigration. It’s one of the most important economic levers any government has and we don’t have it. … We need to devolve immigration to provincial governments.”
Each of these provinces does have some level of jurisdiction in immigration matters, mostly through the Provincial Nominee Program, which allows for the provinces to nominate certain workers whose skills are particularly in demand. Their applications are then fast-tracked at the federal level.
However, the growing Western provinces say that the PNPs are unable to keep pace with demand, particularly when there are caps on the number of workers to be nominated each year.
The B.C. government is currently working on a report conducted by an immigration and employment task force, mandated to assess the near future of the labour market. So far the findings are of concern; many employers are bracing themselves for shortages as the baby-boomer generation retires.
Both Saskatchewan and Alberta are facing similar challenges as they try to cope with a shrinking labour force and a growing resources-based economy. They argue that more immigration powers will strengthen, not only these provinces, but also the whole Canadian economy in the coming years.
Source: Globe and Mail