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Coalition opposes changes to MPNP

Photo by Alex Canlapan

WINNIPEG – A newly formed organization composed of individuals from various multi-cultural communities held a two-day mobilization activity on February 28 and March 1 at the steps of the Legislative building. Many supporters brought placards expressing their opposition to proposed changes to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP). Four members of the Save the MPNP Coalition spoke about what they call the wrong-headed decisions the Manitoba government is making on the immigration front. The group believes the Conservative government’s proposed changes to MPNP will create financial and social barriers for newcomers. When implemented, successful provincial nominees will have to pay a $500 fee as part of their application.

   SAVE MPNP outside night
Photo by Via Lou Perez
Photo by Alex Canlapan
Photo by Via Lou Perez

While the Provincial government’s stated justification for the fee is that it will be re-invested into language support programs, the coalition says the MPNP already requires nominees to have proven English or French language skills.

The government is also changing its criteria for selecting nominees with family and community connections in Manitoba to an employer-driven focus that will only prioritize nominees with approved job offers from established employers.

“Without the family or friends stream, the number of successful applicants arriving in Manitoba will be drastically reduced,” said Liza Fontillas, coalition co-chair. “This shift in focus jeopardizes the MPNP’s successful 86 per cent retention rate. Without family or community ties, nominees will move to other provinces with larger job markets, Fontillas added.

The business community and the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce have made it clear that the MPNP is a successful program, driving our economy with skilled workers. According to a report in 2014, 94 to 98 per cent of nominees report employment earnings within their first year of arriving in Manitoba and had the second lowest unemployment rate among immigrants in Canada.

“The proposed $500 fee is a “cash grab” similar to the head tax imposed on the Chinese in the early years of the last century,” coalition co-chairperson Anthony Huyhn stated.

Zita Somakoko, a coalition member, noted that Premier Pallister was wrong in his remarks that a high number of nominees are unemployed and rely on social assistance. “New immigrants boost Manitoba’s economy and are responsible for our record-high population growth. Despite the wealth of economic and social benefits that newcomers bring to our province, the premier portrayed them as a burden to society by inaccurately linking provincial nominees to high unemployment rates and social assistance,” she added.

Other speakers during the rally were Michael Champagne of Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, Basha Sokol of the Winnipeg Labour Council, and Saif Baloch of the University of Manitoba Students Union.

Over 50 supporters from the different ethnic communities participated in the February 28th evening rally.

– From a report by the Save the MPNP Coalition.

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