ICYMI: Ontario PCs want immigration deal with Ottawa changed

Of note:

Although a provincial election stands between now and when Ontario and Ottawa will decide the terms of a new immigration agreement, the Progressive Conservatives are keen to make changes to the pact that’s up for renegotiation in 2023.

The province’s existing immigration deal with Ottawa was agreed to in 2017, while Justin Trudeau was prime minister, but before Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives (PCs) were elected to govern Ontario.

Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Labour minister, says the PCs want more of a say in which immigrants are allowed to come to Ontario, so they can better leverage them to fill holes in the province’s job market.

“The Liberals have used immigration as as a social tool, and that’s an entirely valid purpose — and one, I want to be clear, that we support, like for family reunification, for example,” McNaughton told iPolitics in a brief interview on Thursday.

“But to me, immigration is one of the key economic drivers of Ontario’s growth, and one that can be used strategically to fill critical gaps in labour supply and to create more jobs.”

Ontario usually takes in more than 125,000 immigrants each year, but it’s allowed to nominate fewer than 9,000 potential immigrants each year through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), the main mechanism the province uses to attract the skilled workers it lacks domestically.

The federal government has to approve the province’s OINP nominees, because the former is responsible for Canada’s borders and for assigning citizenship and permanent residency.

The PCs have changed the OINP by improving its intake system and giving more priority to workers in health care and the skilled trades, but they want Ottawa to allow Ontario more autonomy in the system, and to double the number of nominees it’s allotted.

McNaughton has already spoken to Sean Fraser, Canada’s new minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, but the two haven’t had the chance to meet officially yet. McNaughton said their first formal tête-à-tête could happen as soon as next week, which is when he’d start appealing to Fraser with the PCs’ requests.

A year ago, the federal Liberals set higher immigration goals, including increasing the number of permanent residents from 351,000 to 401,000 this year, and from 361,000 to 411,000 in 2022.

The Liberals also promised in the recent election campaign to reform economic-immigration programs and to recognize more foreign job credentials.

On a similar front, McNaughton tabled a bill on Monday to recognize the licences of foreign workers in nearly two dozen trades in Ontario.

Source: Ontario PCs want immigration deal with Ottawa changed

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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