Lags in Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program a ‘failure of the government’: advocate

Hundreds gathered outside Manitoba’s legislature Thursday afternoon to protest lags in a provincial immigration program.

The demonstrators expressed frustration with being caught in limbo, as more than 20,000 people wait for the next step in immigrating to Manitoba and becoming a permanent Canadian resident — with time on their work permits dwindling.

Arsh Deepsingh, a protest spokesperson, said he has been in Canada for the past five years on a work permit.

“I moved here because my family is here. I am still here for more than two years,” he said.

But where it used to be a month-long wait to get an invitation to stay in the province under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP), he said it can now take up to two years.

Deepsingh said this extended wait time results in some needing to move provinces, and even countries. Many, though, have already made contributions to Manitoba and made the province home.

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“We worked here for more than five years. Some of us have manager positions. Some have already bought a house here. Some of them already have a business here. And they are saying, ‘You have to go back right now’?” Deepsingh said.

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The advocate said there is frustration that the province has not returned immigrants’ many attempts at contact.

“We want them to listen to us so we can tell our issues,” he said, noting emails have been sent to the government since the beginning of January.

He said he feels there is a lack of transparency from the government, adding there is not a lot of information when it comes to knowing where immigrants are in the MPNP process.

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“Other provinces like Alberta, they are really transparent,” he said. “They give all the information on their website.”

Deepsingh said it looks like the province’s priorities are focused on bringing overseas skilled workers in.

“We are skilled workers too,” he said.

It’s frustrating, he said, because in the end, it’s not newcomers’ fault.

“It’s a failure of the government. We already met our requirements,” he said. “We are just waiting for an answer for more than two years. It’s not our fault.

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“People here, they are in hope that they will get something.”

A provincial spokesperson said that “budget 2024 will significantly increase the number of staff in the immigration division who can process Manitoba Provincial Nominee applications.”

They added, “our government is exploring every available option to ensure that people who hold post-graduate work permits have every opportunity to stay in Manitoba after the recent announcement by the federal government that their permits would not be extended any further.”

Click to play video: 'Investment in newcomer support will help career placement, integration, Manitoba’s immigration support organization director says'

Investment in newcomer support will help career placement, integration, Manitoba’s immigration support organization director says

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