Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program changes cause concern
by Kevin Lamoureux, MLA for Inkster
|Kevin Lamoureux, MLA for Inkster|
Okay, I’m not going to sound off the alarm bells, nor am I going to send off letters, petitions or organize a protest – at least not yet! I am very concerned about what appears to be recent policy changes within the Manitoba Provincial Nomine Program (MPNP). In the past few months, I have expressed some concerns both directly and indirectly with the Minister of Immigration and, upon one occasion, inside the Legislature. I shared with her some of my concerns. I have been patiently waiting for something in writing that would ease my mind with regards to the program. Still waiting.
I have a passion for the Provincial Nominee Program as I believe that this program not only enables Manitoba to grow and prosper, but it has also allowed for thousands of families to be reunited. This program has seen changes in recent months that upset me and I am asking for the government to provide a detailed explanation on several points.
When it comes to establishing the criteria that allows someone to be qualified for a provincial nominee certificate, we must always be aware of the impact of changes and it is absolutely critical that the policy be clear. For now I want to focus on three points that are causing me to get frustrated because of a lack of clarity or bad decisions regarding the Provincial Nominee Program.
How much money must an applicant have?
First, it is unfair to expect that people, in general, living in the Philippines have thousands of dollars sitting in a bank account. Many people in the Philippines have wealth, but for the 90% of the applicants, they need financial support from their sponsors here in Canada. It is unfair and stupid to think that the average Filipino family of four has $16,000.00 sitting in a bank account in the Philippines. I know it does not have to be all cash and not all of it has to be in the Philippines, but the percentage of money to be in the Philippines has increased dramatically over recent months. If the province continues to not recognize this reality, they are adding to the problem of exploitation and in some cases poverty conditions in the Philippines. There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing family sponsors here in Canada to establish a trust fund as a form of assurance so that a would-be applicant has the financial means to be able to immigrate and settle in the province successfully. The Minister of Immigration needs to make a very clear policy statement on how much money an applicant must physically have in the Philippines. The statement should also include how much a sponsor here should have in-trust account prior to a certificate being issued. In terms of how much cash an applicant must have in the Philippines, it is my personal opinion that an applicant and his/her family (that is being sponsored by a family member here) should not be expected to have more than the actual costs of immigrating to Canada. Those costs would include processing fees, landing fees, medical tests, security clearance information and airfare money.
Extra burden of English tests
The second concern that I have is in regards to the number of applications being denied because they don’t have the required 55 points. In the last few months I have seen more denials based on the fact that the applicant received 54 points, while at the same time they were only given 6 points for language. It wasn’t all that long ago when it seemed that people from the Philippines were issued 7 points as standard practice. To make matters even worse, the policy makers seem to want to make the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) a mandatory requirement when filling out an application. In certain situations, it might be warranted but for a vast majority of applicants from the Philippines, it is an extra burden that cannot be justified. The costs involved in getting IELTS are significant – not to mention the additional time and paper work involved. The Government should recognize that English in the Philippines is spoken in many ways; at schools, work and home environments, and there are many ways to get verification on a person’s ability to speak English. The average Filipino immigrant to Canada and his/her ability to communicate in English has never really been a serious issue. So why are we creating an additional burden?
Notice of appeals decisions
Another serious concern that I have is related to the appeal process. It would appear that there is no real set time frame for when an appeal decision will be made. In some cases I have been told directly from sponsors that they were informed that they lost the appeal but never received anything in writing. The policy makers need to establish an appropriate time frame, let’s say 30 days to process a minimum of 90% of the appeals and that all decisions, good or bad, should be conveyed to the sponsor and the applicant in writing.
The issues I have raised lead me to believe that there may be a hidden agenda that is somewhat of a discriminatory nature against the Philippines, but before I expand on that point I have requested a formal meeting with the Minister of Labour and Immigration to discuss my concerns. I am sure the Pilipino Expresswill offer the Minister of Labour and Immigration the opportunity to provide a written response to this story and I look forward to reading it.
Click here to read Minister Jennifer Howard's response, Manitoba's Provincial Nominee Program continues on the right track.
For more about recent issues concerning the MPNP, see Michael Scott's article in the July 16 editon of the Pilipino Express,
How to read a refusal or results letter from the MPNP.