MLA demands answers on MPNP delays
MLA Cindy Lamoureux slept overnight in a Legislature corridor to get answers on immigration issues
WINNIPEG – Cindy Lamoureux, the Liberal party immigration critic and MLA for Burrows, staged a 33-hour sit-in on February 22 and 23 at the Manitoba Legislature, outside the office of Ian Wishart, the Education and Training Minister.
Lamoureux wanted answers from the minister about delays and the treatment of applicants in the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP), the province’s immigration program. She brought food and a sleeping bag, and set up a camp of chairs and a small table in the hallway. Lamoureux stayed there through the day and overnight with supporters keeping her company.
Lamoureux said that Wishart, repeatedly failed to answer her questions about the MPNP in the chamber and at committee meetings. She also said that letters she sent to the minister on the subject were not responded to, but merely acknowledged by his office.
“We're not getting responses,” she said. “I have constituents who have been waiting months to hear from me and years to hear from the program, and frankly, having them put their lives on hold for three to four years to find out whether or not they're going to be accepted or rejected from the provincial nominee program – It’s not fair.”
Lamoureux listed improvements that need to be made in the MPNP:
- A commitment that no applicant will wait more than six months to hear a response from the date that the application has been received.
- Respectable and fair answers for applicants.
- A dedicated contact number for the purpose of discussing case files.
- Assurance that applications with minor shortfalls in information have the chance to be corrected rather than having them summarily rejected so that an applicant must start again from the beginning.
- Elimination of the $500 acceptance fee.
The new $500 fee, announced last November, sparked on-going, organized protests in immigrant communities and has been likened to a head tax.
“I think it’s a cash grab, 100%,” said Lamoureux, who maintains that the $500 fee isn’t needed since the program worked well without it.
Lamoureux called off her protest after meeting late Thursday afternoon, February 23, with Minister Ian Wishart. She plans to share the answers she received from the minister with her constituents before making them public.
Wishart said in a statement, “Our government is on track to eliminate by the end of March the MPNP application backlog that ballooned under the former government. Program improvements will ensure all applicants receive a higher standard of service, including better information sharing and processing times of less than six months.”
Many showed support for Cindy Lamoureux, including NDP interim leader, Flor Marcelino
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