Evaluation of the Provincial Nominee Program

1. Introduction

1.1 Provincial Nominee Program overview

1.1.1. Objectives

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) was introduced in 1998 to give provinces a mechanism to respond to local economic development needs. Over the years that the program has been in existence, the environment within which it operates has changed significantly. PNP has grown a great deal, representing 20% of the total economic class immigration in 2009. For some provinces, such as Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, the program is now the primary vehicle through which they attract immigrants to their province.

The PNP allows for the eleven participating provinces and territoriesFootnote 4 to nominate potential immigrants whom they believe will meet particular provincial/territorial needs, and who intend to settle in the PT of nomination. In addition to other federal economic programs, PNP is a mechanism that facilitates economic immigration to Canada, while allowing PTs to respond to their specific needs. As such, the PNP has four main objectives (PNP logic model, 2009):

  • To increase the economic benefits of immigration to PTs, based on their economic priorities and labour market conditions;
  • To distribute the benefits of immigration across all PTsFootnote 5;
  • To enhance Federal-Provincial/Territorial (FPT) collaboration; and
  • To encourage development of official language minority communities.

While the PNP was initially exclusively on attracting skilled workers to contribute to the provinces’ economic objectives, many PTs have incorporated additional objectives, such as regional development, into their PN programs over time. A more detailed explanation of the PT-specific objectives and program streams (which define the types of immigrants selected by PTs) is provided in section 3.1.1.

1.1.2. Authorities

Section 87 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) establishes the provincial nominee class as “a class of persons who may become permanent residents on the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada”Footnote 6. Under the authorities of subsection 8(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and subsection 5(1) of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act, 1994, c-31, the PNP operates under individual agreements between the federal government and each PT government. In order to maintain flexibility in adjusting PN programs to changing economic conditions, all 11 PTs have opted not to enact their own regulations, but rather to manage their PN programs by means of policy directives.

1.1.3. Roles and responsibilities

Under Section 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867, the responsibility for immigration is shared between the federal and PT governments. Additionally, subsection 10(2) of IRPA requires that the Minister of CIC consult with PT governments on an annual basis in order to determine the number of immigrants who will become permanent residents and their distribution in Canada. In administering PNP, both CIC and the designated Ministry/Department of PT governments have outlined their respective roles and responsibilities in agreements. Specifically, PTs are responsible forFootnote 7:

  • The design of their own programs and the establishment of requirements for such programs;
  • The nomination of immigrants destined to their jurisdiction;
  • The promotion and recruitment of PNs, with some support from CIC International Region; and
  • Monitoring, evaluation, and reporting on PNPs.

CIC is responsible forFootnote 8:

  • Admissibility screening (medical, criminality and security), based on federal admissibility standards and IRPR, Section 87; and
  • The final selection of PNs – the satisfaction of the visa officer that the applicant:
    • Has the ability to establish economically in Canada;
    • Intends to reside in the nominating province; and
    • Has not been nominated on the basis of a passive investment.

As such, visa officers can reject a PN application on the basis of an applicant’s inability to meet admissibility requirements (resulting in an outright rejection of the application) or on the basis of final selection. In the event that a nominee is to be refused for permanent residence on grounds not related to admissibility, CIC will consult with the PT on the issue. At this point, the PT may provide additional information to CIC, or the PT may withdraw the nomination; ultimately, CIC’s decision is final.

Additionally, the federal government has committed to processing PNP applications as a priority within Economic Class applications for permanent residence.

1.1.4. Governance of the PNP

In addition to the specific roles and responsibilities related to PNP described in section 1.1.3, the overall governance for the PNP is integrated with CICs overarching FPT governance structure for immigration (Figure 1-1).

Figure 1-1: FPT governance structure for immigration

Federal-Provincial/Territorial governance structure for immigration

In order to facilitate sharing of information on specific areas of immigration and integration, there are four FPT Working Groups, which meet either annually or bi-annually. One of them, the Economic Working Group (EWG), is the principal guidance mechanism for the PNP. It is a multilateral forum for FPT governments to discuss policy and operational issues as they emerge, and to share information on policies, programs, research and other issues of mutual interest, such as PNP, business immigrants, Temporary Foreign Workers and the promotion and recruitment of these groups.

1.2. Organization of the report

The report is organized into five sections:

  • 1 - Introduction;
  • 2 - Evaluation description and methodology;
  • 3 - Program and provincial nominee profile;
  • 4 - Findings; and
  • 5 - Conclusions and recommendations.

Within Section 4, findings are presented under the themes of relevance and performance. The report is organized by main issue, rather than by evaluation question. A cross-walk between the section and sub-section headings and the evaluation questions and indicators is presented in Appendix A.

Where qualitative evidence is presented, the following scale has been used in reporting to indicate the relative weight of the responses for each of the respondent groups.

All
Findings reflect the views and opinions of 100% of the key informants in the group;
Majority/Most
Findings reflect the views and opinions of at least 75% but less than 100% of key informants in the group;
Many
Findings reflect the views and opinions of at least 50% but less than 75% of key informants in the group;
Some
Findings reflect the views and opinions of at least 25% but less than 50% of key informants in the group; and
A few
Findings reflect the views and opinions of at least two respondents but less than 25% of key informants in the group.
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