Deposit increase restricts PNP program at wrong time

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Despite lingering controversy about past sins, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) continues to be an important economic generator for Prince Edward Island. The overall program itself is a good one. There was deserved criticism for past indiscretions but the greed of a few should not condemn a program that assisted the many. Hundreds and hundreds of Island businesses legitimately benefitted from PNP. It poured hundreds of millions into the Island economy at a time when it was sorely needed.

The federal-provincial program underwent reforms and tighter controls since the 2007 orgy which ensnared the former P.E.I. Liberal government, various companies and individuals. P.E.I.’s PNP has been the subject of numerous investigations in the past, including by the auditor general and the RCMP.  No charges have ever been laid.

While critics remain obsessed with what happened some nine years ago, PNP was relaunched and has quietly gone about its business. It continues to attract immigrants willing to invest in this province in return for fast-tracking their visa applications to become Canadian citizens. And in these current economic times, PNP is more important than ever to attract new immigrants, investment and population growth.

So one wonders why the province has decided to tinker with some key elements of the program. The province has doubled the required deposit or down payment to $200,000. The money is held in escrow by a provincial Crown corporation and the province retains all interest accrued. Should the immigrant fail to meet criteria, the province then gets to keep the entire amount.

So one could conclude that the deposit was increased as a money-grab by the province. It also places an extra hardship on an immigrant who might have cobbled together all available resources to make that original $100,000 deposit to come to P.E.I.

The province argues that deposits were increased to ensure the best possible applicants come to P.E.I. through this program. So only the richest immigrants need apply; or more money means a better immigrant? One could argue that the more money an immigrant has when arriving here, the less importance is placed on a deposit. It would logically follow that there is a greater likelihood that an immigrant is willingly take the financial hit as the cost of getting a Canadian passport and then leaving P.E.I. for elsewhere in Canada as soon as possible.

The province fails to grasp that an immigrant is far more valuable remaining in the province and investing and building a business here over the long term, than opting for a quick cash grab of $200,000.

Opposition Leader Jamie Fox made an excellent point when he noted the province is trying to encourage immigrants to come and invest in our industries and small businesses yet limits the ability of newcomers to have the capital to develop a business. It might convince immigrants on the financial bubble to look at other provinces.

P.E.I. has pocketed millions in defaulted PNP deposits in past years and targeting immigrants might be an attempt to pocket even more.


Free pass at high price


The Prince Edward Island national park attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to enjoy the beaches, attractions and historical sites. Our ecologically fragile park is among the smallest in Canada but also among the busiest.

Admission policies developed by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau mean the park will face a surge in visitors next year with heavy pressure on facilities and infrastructure. The mandate letter issued by Mr. Trudeau states: "Make admission for all visitors to National Parks free in 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation."

Free admittance will mean that more Islanders and visitors alike will be flocking to our national park in 2017. A P.E.I. National Park seasonal pass, purchased in 2016, will be valid for 24 months from the date of purchase.

Park staff and officials here should take heed and start developing plans now on how to deal with increased parking, concessions, washrooms, safety and other pressures expected throughout 2017.

This invitation to all Canadians to enjoy national parks during our national sesquicentennial will still come at a high price.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: P.E.I. National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Indigo
    January 25, 2016 - 14:43

    The remuneration of elected, true 'public servants' is becoming somewhat questionable. Accountability and public oversight is giving way to unrestricted power and greed. Yes ,lip-service and justification are given for these increases at the various levels, and we are told that some paid- gun- expert from somewhere or a government appointed board of cronies have deemed that we the taxpayers should cough up more money and fringe benefits. There is no shortage of candidates at all levels trying to be elected, which is an indication that the load of goodies provided is enticing enough for os many to make the effort. It is time the taxpayers have a say in this, and not being victim to the tricks put upon us of simply voting themselves increases after being elected, --- not proposed before election time. Time for the people to take back the power, -----.

  • David
    January 24, 2016 - 07:23

    Well said. The way I see Government should explain the new revamped, tell us how it works, tell us how its working out to date. Immigrants comments and interviews should be included. This way Islanders will get a true pictue of what is happening. Cynical conclusions is exactly what most do .

  • Cromwell
    January 23, 2016 - 21:59

    '...the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) continues to be an important economic generator for Prince Edward Island' Please provide substantive, verifiable details to confirm this claim. Include the number and nature of the new sustainable businesses created entirely through the auspices of PNP; how many Islanders have been employed at these PNP-generated businesses, etc.. Also provide information as to why the PNP has been targeted almost entirely to Chinese immigrants, and how many have subsequently returned to mainland China once they have been fast-tracked to Permanent Resident status? If only a similar effort were put into retaining existing Islanders and/or attracting Canadians to come to PEI (as I did), then I believe the Island would be in a far better position. However, it seems that our government and encumbered bureaucracy seems to take the viewpoint that 'easier is better' - unfortunately to the detriment of PEI.

  • RUkiddingme
    January 23, 2016 - 20:43

    Has Mr. Aiken even considered the fact that sometimes foreign money is accumulated through criminal activity and placed into off-shore bank accounts. The PNP is viewed as a vehicle for money laundering in many of the Asian countries. This is not intended to indicate that all of the immigrants applying under the increased fee structure are crooks however, one should be cognizant of this issue if they are capable of doing a thorough job in their highly paid management positions.

  • sentance
    January 23, 2016 - 11:42

    While the raising of deposit levels for investor immigrants does raise some questions, I wouldn't be so quick to jump on the explanation that its a cash grab - I think the obsessed critics of the PNP are more than prepared to do that for us. Two questions I would ask are what are the deposit levels required in other provinces? And what has been our experience lately with immigrants in this new version of the program? Are we finding the level of immigrant we're attracting has enough capital? Are our rates so low that we're seen as a cheap entry point from which immigrants can move on? I can think of a number of things that might have convinced the government to make these adjustments. And if you're worried about retaining our immigrant investors raising the penalty for moving on seems to me to be a logical way of addressing that. Why not probe a bit more before jumping to the most cynical of conclusions?

  • laurent Beaulieu
    January 23, 2016 - 10:38

    The $200K requirement is not too high. A house cost far more to buy in PEI. PNP as a program has been undervalued for what the immigrant gets in return. Making it too cheap is seen as a program of no value for immigrants who are shopping for a country to immigrate too.