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The MPNP and the provincial election

 
By Alona Mercado

 

There has been an ongoing debate over the past several years regarding the $10,000 that every principal applicant to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) must have. It has often been referred to as “show money” in our community. To some applicants, this is a simple requirement. To others, it’s a massive barrier to achieving their dream of becoming Canadian because it is more money than they can ever hope to make in their lifetime.

The purpose of the settlement fund is to ensure that the applicant is able to successfully settle in our province. The theory is that if a new immigrant arrives in Manitoba and is not able to immediately find a job, this $10,000 can be used by the individual to pay for their housing, food, transportation and other expenses for the first six months or until they are able to successfully find a job and begin establishing themselves in the community. These funds are meant to ensure that the individual does not go on welfare and become a drain on society.

The requirement to have sufficient funds to settle successfully in Manitoba is a logical requirement. But what happens when logic and common sense collide?

The Nominee Program is an economic program designed to attract skilled workers to our province. However, to ensure that these applicants stay in the province, they must produce one or two individuals who are willing to sign an affidavit of support stating that they will assist the applicant in their settlement. The logic behind this requirement is the belief that if an individual has family and friends in Manitoba, they are more likely to stay and settle in Manitoba.

It is without question that Canada needs immigrants. Given the low birth rates in our country, we need continued and sustained immigration levels in order to grow as a nation. It is also a fact that new immigrants bring with them not only their skills and experience but also their money and purchasing power; money that will be spent on new housing, goods and transportation, and this will help fuel the economy.

However, for many skilled applicants in developing countries such as the Philippines, it is often, extremely hard, if not impossible to save $10,000 Canadian when the average yearly wage is only 250,000 pesos or $6,250 CDN (using an average exchange rate of $1 CDN = 40 pesos).

If an applicant is skilled and has the support of family and friends in Manitoba but they do not have the required settlement funds, their application will be refused. In the past, these applicants would be allowed to successfully immigrate if their family or friends in Manitoba established a trust fund for them at a local bank in the amount of $10,000 (plus $2,000 for each additional dependent).

This all changed recently when the NDP revoked the use of in Canada trust funds. Logic could say that this was the right decision because the applicants did not have the right amount of money in their home country. Common sense would say that rejecting these applicants is wrong, especially if a Manitoba relative or friend was willing to provide the required $10,000 in the form of a trust fund in Canada. The settlement fund requirement would still be met. The only difference would be that the money would be in Canada instead of in a bank account overseas. What do you think?

On Monday, September 26th, 2011, at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM), Roldan Sevillano, the Liberal candidate for Tyndall Park, voiced the Liberal’s position when he announced that a Liberal Government would reinstate the ability of Manitobans to provide assistance to their relatives and friends who had insufficient funds.

In his announcement Roldan said:

“I have met with countless Manitobans who are frustrated by the NDP’s short sighted decision. Manitoba Liberals will reverse this decision.

We will once again allow Manitobans to hold required settlement funds here in Canada for their friends and relatives applying to the Nominee Program.

To do this, we will expand a mechanism already in place for business applicants of the Nominee Program. We will allow Manitobans to deposit funds with the provincial government to be held in trust for the skilled applicant. Upon their arrival in Manitoba, these funds will be paid to the applicant over a period of six months. This change will allow Manitobans to offer that extra measure of support to their families and friends.”

Roldan further explained that this initiative would not cost the taxpayer a cent because it takes advantage of an existing mechanism already offered to business applicants. Manitoba Liberals want to expand on that mechanism and offer it to all applicants. Any interest generated by the deposited funds will cover the administration costs.

The common sense approach announced by Roldan Sevillano and the Manitoba Liberals is a win-win situation for all: there is no burden on the taxpayer, Manitoba welcomes new skilled workers, and families and friends are reunited. There are times when common sense should prevail over logic. This is one of those times. This new Liberal initiative would give back hope to those families who have already been refused because of the lack of funds and to those who still dream of a better life in Canada. To achieve this, all we have to do is remember to vote for Roldan Sevillano and the Manitoba Liberals.

Editor’s Note: Alona C. Mercado is a lawyer practicing in Winnipeg and campaign manager for Liberal candidate Roldan Sevillano in the upcoming provincial election.

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