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A call for action on settlement funds

by Kevin Lamoureux

 

 
  Kevin Lamoureux

In the August 1st edition of the Pilipino Express I wrote about Manitoba’s nominee program and suggested that there were some changes that were made that I believed were not in the best interest of future immigrants. I even suggested that there might be a hidden agenda that discriminates against countries like the Philippines.

The Government’s decision to require that 80% of settlement funds be in the home country of the applicant who wants a nominee certificate is wrong. I am told the change was made in part because of some abuse, but my response to that is that all should not be penalized because of a few.

The impact of the decision to no longer allow for trust funds here in Canada will reduce and slow down the number of applications coming to the province of Manitoba. Plus, this policy encourages people to misrepresent themselves, and in many situations, people will be put into a position of being exploited.

Reduce and Slow Down

There are many people within the Philippines that will not be able establish a bank account to demonstrate that they have the required settlement funds in a bank account located in the Philippines. As a result, there will be some people who will not be able to apply because their family member, for many reasons, won’t able to assist them by sending money to the Philippines. An example of a good reason for not sending money would be for the fear of the sponsor here in Winnipeg believing that if the applicant is ultimately turned down, they will never see the money that they transferred to the Philippines.

The process of getting someone a certificate will slow down because, in many ways, it takes time to gather the settlement monies necessary into an account in a fashion in which it would satisfy the government’s new requirements.

Misrepresentation

It is hard to imagine that a government would encourage people to misrepresent themselves in filling out an application form, but that is the reality of what the province is requesting. If you want to come to Manitoba with your wife and 2 children, you are now required to have the equivalent of $13,000.00 Canadian dollars physically located in the Philippines. Very few in the Philippines meet that requirement. The reality is that over 90% of people that come from the Philippines under the family support stream rely on family members here in Canada and elsewhere to provide financial support. The truth is that a vast majority of people in the Philippines do not have the necessary money and are put into a position of having to somehow say that they do.

Exploitation

By forcing applicants in the Philippines to prove that they have the money, they have to come up with ways to find the money somehow. That means for many, where a family in unable to provide the large sums of support, that they have to go to banks in order to borrow money in order to give the illusion to show that they have money. This means that they will have to pay monthly interest charges that will often go into hundreds of dollars every month. Unfortunately there are those who will even have to sell assets and other valuable personal and household items in order to get the settlement money required.

Call for action

I was at a breakfast meeting recently when Fred De Villa and others shared with me that they were going to be starting a petition campaign on the issue of settlement funds. A provincial election will be underway within a year and I am anticipating that if people like Mr. De Villa and others continue to push for change on this issue that we will be able to succeed.

For me, there is a simple answer to the whole issue of settlement funds regarding sponsoring family members through the provincial nominee program. I believe that family members here in Manitoba should only have to provide a financial guarantee under the Manitoba Nominee Program in order for their family members in the Philippines to meet the financial settlement requirements. A simple policy change of that nature would recognize the reality of what is actually taking place in many ways, anyway.

Should the government not recognize that what I am suggesting should be the case for settlement funds, I would suggest the current Minister of Labour and Immigration put back into place the 80/20 split. At least that allowed for family members here to establish a trust fund located in Manitoba that would have 80% of the necessary settlement funds required for an applicant in the Philippines.

The Manitoba Liberal Party in a recent press release supported my personal opinion on the issue and I suspect that the PC Party will also, if it has not already, act on allowing trust funds here in Manitoba. It is not too late for the NDP government to recognize the need to reverse the change that was made a number of months ago. It is only a question of time. I just pray that it is sooner as opposed to later.

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