The History Of The Provincial Nominee Program

Provincial nominee programs are relatively recent devices. Up until the 1970s, the federal government ran all of the immigration programs.

That would have continued but for the Quiet Revolution in Quebec and the desire of the Quebec government to have more say in its own destiny. Quebec led the way by saying that they wanted to choose who came to Quebec because they thought that would help them preserve their language and culture. They negotiated agreements with the federal government over the years that gave them more and more powers to select immigrants. In the mid 1980s, the federal government decided to try to devolve some immigration selection powers to the provinces through the Meech Lake Agreement using constitutional amendment, but that did not succeed. So the federal government had to switch to another mechanism to achieve the same result which was to establish agreements with the provinces. Quebec had paved the way with their agreements and other provinces started to get very interested because they could see the benefits.

At the same time, one problem that the federal government was having with our immigration system was that the vast majority of the immigrants were going to the major metropolitan centres of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. This was a stumbling block for increasing immigration in Canada because if newcomers went only to those three places, immigration there hit saturation levels and caused problems with the infrastructure and services. The federal government looked for new mechanisms to spread immigration around more effectively, and the provincial nominee program was developed as a device to do that. The new program was mutually satisfying for both the federal and provincial governments. The provinces got the kind of immigrants they felt they needed and the federal government got to spread immigration across the country.

Manitoba was the first province to get aggressively involved in the provincial nominee program and they started by bringing in sewing machine operators, mostly from the Philippines, to revive their garment industry. Other provinces saw the success that Manitoba was having and started to ask for similar powers. Manitoba is still the leader with this program and I think they would say it has been a resounding success. They have brought in thousands and thousands of immigrants through that program and it has really helped their economy. Manitoba would not have been a destination choice, but the program has really made it attractive.

The same thing has happened with other provinces who want to grow their immigrant population or target a particular type of a worker. They want to retain people who, for instance, go to university in their province because that benefits their local economy. It has come to a point where every single province in Canada has now bought into the provincial nominee program model, with Ontario just recently getting on board.
If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with immigration law issues in the Calgary, Alberta Region, contact Sherritt Greene Barristers & Solicitors for a consultation.

This article is taken from a March 18, 2008 interview with Michael Greene an immigration lawyer with Sherritt Greene Barristers & Solicitors, a Calgary Immigration Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.