Immigration Minister Jason Kenney
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
WINNIPEG - If the provincial nominee program is as important to Manitoba's economic well-being as the provincial government says it is, the province should have made it more of a budgetary priority.
That's the word from Jason Kenney, Canada's immigration minister. He said federal support for immigrant settlement services -- such as language classes and job training -- has increased in the past dozen years from $3 million to $36 million. In that same time, Manitoba's support for settlement services has remained relatively stagnant, at slightly more than $1 million.
"We've walked the talk. We've put our money where our mouth is," said Kenney, who visited Winnipeg on Monday.
"We've demonstrated through our investment that these services matter to us, while Manitoba has seen its share of settlement service funding shrink to 3%.
"I think that speaks volumes about who really prioritizes these services."
Kenney's jab comes less than a week after the federal government killed a decade-old deal with the province for settlement services, citing the need to maintain a consistent immigration recruitment program nationwide.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger delivered a stinging public rebuke in response, claiming the feds were attempting to destroy a very successful nominee program that has brought more than 100,000 immigrants to Manitoba since its inception in the 1990s.
Christine Melnick, the NDP's immigration minister, met with Kenney on Monday afternoon. She said she told Kenney he had it all wrong. In addition to the $1.7 million the province gives for settlement services for immigrants, it also provides $20 million in funding for immigrants through numerous other government departments.
"This is an example of the confusion that can occur when unilateral, non-collaborative decisions are on an agreement as important as this," said Melnick.
-- With files from Nicole Dube