Migrante Alberta Statement on the announcement of the changes to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program
EDMONTON – On Friday, October 20, 2017 the Minister of Labour Hon. Christina Gray announced the changes to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP). The changes will take effect on January 2018. The changes include the consolidation of all categories in a single stream with one set of standardized eligibility criteria. According to Hon. Gray, the new AINP will become “simpler for applicants, more efficient for government and more responsive to Alberta’s emerging labour-market demands”. She said “These changes will simplify processes, reduce wait times and make it more fair for applicants across all sectors to apply for permanent residency in Alberta”.
One of the major positive changes is the removal of the Employer Driven Stream. This has been the call of many advocates in the past as foreign workers are stuck in indentured labour. However, the requirement of a “positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)” still ties migrant workers to single employers. One of the very few pathways to permanent residency that migrants rely on is being shut down on them.
According to the Ministry’s media release, the AINP allows foreign workers already here to apply for permanent residency if they are working in occupations where the employer can demonstrate that no Albertan or Canadian is available. Under the renewed AINP, many migrants that are already here will not be able to meet the eligibility requirements. The changes unfortunately shadows the discriminatory federal immigration program, where the government cherry picks “good migrants” from “bad migrants”, from those who are highly skilled and can afford to stay and those who are low skilled and are meant to be temporary.
- The Employer-Driven and Strategic Recruitment Streams and 11 sub-categories are consolidated under one new Alberta Opportunity Stream. This “consolidation” means substantially trimming out the important streams and sub-categories including Post Graduate Worker category. Migrants, in the hundreds are currently on study permits hoping to access a postgraduate work permit. This will never happen under the new AINP.
- The single set eligibility criteria process of The Alberta Opportunity Stream will only benefit the bureaucracy and the immigration consultants that are processing the documents of migrants but not necessary the migrants themselves.
- The Express Entry Stream allowing the AINP to select candidates from the federal Express Entry pool will only benefit the migrants that are “more privileged” than others. The overwhelming majority of the temporary workers in Alberta are low skilled and will not qualify for the Express Entry.
Further restrictions include:
- The continuous implementation of the language testing benchmark that will be raised from score 4 to 5 in 2019. This will further derail the chances of migrants who can potentially qualify for AINP who have worked for at least a year in English language environment. The Canadian language testing benchmark should be set prior to arriving to Canada and not as a condition for permanent residency.
- Lastly, the minimum income requirement that is based on family unit size, which the minimum income for single person is $24,952. This is set too high. Even with $15 minimum wage, the income of the principal applicant that has a family of 3 (or more) will not be enough to meet the income requirement. This will cause breakdown in families and keep them apart. A household income as opposed to single applicant income should have been considered.
The current changes do not reflect the values and attitude that the New Democratic Party has promoted in the past. In 2010, Premier Rachel Notley, then Labour Critic said “that the NDP is charging ahead with a policy that would allow the workers to immigrate in hopes of decreasing the number of violations in labour codes in situations where temporary foreign workers are involved”. “If they are good enough to work here, they are good enough to live here” she added. With the new AINP however, “low skilled” migrants will bear the brunt of being disposed of because they are “not good enough”. There are fewer opportunities in The Alberta Opportunity Stream.
We in Migrante believe that the changes should not be a one size fits all model. This change is a two-step back in addressing the issues of migrants that are already here in Alberta. We are hoping the Minister of Labour, Hon. Christina Gray will have a second look into the changes and see that migrants who are already here, regardless of their skill levels, have contributed and will continue to contribute to the economy of Alberta. They will be part of building the province towards a better place to live.(Migrante AB)
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