Politics
Manitoba immigrant numbers skewed: Province

Minister of Entrepreneurship Peter Bjornson.

Credits: Marcel Cretain/Winnipeg Sun/QMI AGENCY

QMI AGENCY

WINNIPEG -- Manitoba's NDP government says its business immigration program is a success, despite a report it has a 20% success rate.

The report stated foreign investors applying under the provincial nominee program for business were paying the required $75,000 deposit to enter Manitoba, but only 20% of them fulfilled the requirement to invest at least $150,000 in a Manitoba business in 2011.

The province claims the figures aren't accurate because application numbers reflect the number of business immigrants approved by the province, not the total ultimately approved by the federal government and who actually move to Manitoba.

The province says numbers are also skewed by the fact immigrants have two years to fulfil their financial commitment, so investments may not correspond to the year of immigration.

"We actually have a 60% success rate. Sixty percent of the people who come here through the program are conducting business," Minister of Entrepreneurship Peter Bjornson said. "We have a very successful program that has over 500 businesses that have started up and almost $200 million in investment."

Bjornson said his figures are the most telling since they measure the program since the year 2000.

The auditor general is auditing the program's business branch and a report is due in January.

PC immigration critic Bonnie Mitchelson said the perceived need for the audit indicates there's something wrong with the program and the government's math may be misleading.

"I have difficulty understanding why the auditor would investigate a program with a 60% success rate," Mitchelson said.
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