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P.E.I. government reviewing immigration programs

The P.E.I. Provincial Nominee Program has boosted immigration to the province.
The P.E.I. Provincial Nominee Program

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - An internal review of P.E.I.’s immigration programs will result in significant changes, but there are no plans to make its findings public.

Jamie Aiken, the executive director of the Island Investment Development Inc., said the review will focus on the business stream of the Provincial Nominee Program.

The review comes in the wake of two large-scale immigration fraud investigations by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Aiken said any changes made to immigration programs will be posted online, but said it was too early to say whether the findings of the review itself will be made public.

“I haven't given so much thought about issuing a report at this stage. It's more about completing a review, trying to find best practices, ensure we have all the appropriate safeguards in place,” Aiken said.

“Once we put our changes out there through this review process, I suspect a lot of the review that is being done would become evident.”

Aiken said the review, which was requested by Economic Development Minister Chris Palmer about three weeks ago, is not directly related to the CBSA investigations.

“We're constantly reviewing our programs,” he said.

“We want to take the best practices and the best programs possible to ensure our programs are running optimally and bringing the best possible applicants to our province.”

RELATED: P.E.I. siblings charged with helping fake addresses for business immigrants

Two individuals, Ping Zhong and Yi Zhong, face a combined eight charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in connection with the Sherwood Inn and Motel.

An investigation by CBSA alleged the two siblings counselled hundreds of new immigrants to list the motel as their residence on applications for permanent residency.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

RELATED: New federal probe opens on P.E.I. immigrants alleged to have used fake addresses

A separate investigation by CBSA named two other individuals in connection with the alleged use of three “addresses of convenience” in the Charlottetown area that were associated with 462 PNP applicants.

No charges have been laid in relation to this investigation.

Aiken said these investigations were a source of concern but should not overshadow some of the successes of the Island’s immigration programs.

“I think we've seen some really good success with our programs to date. We've seen some newcomers and some skilled labourers that have come in and made tremendous impact on our local economy by either filling labour shortages or creating additional jobs here,” Aiken said.

In recent years, immigration to P.E.I. has increased dramatically. In 2006, there were 738 immigrants on the Island according to census data. In 2016, there were 2,264 immigrants.

In 2016, 83 per cent of immigrants arrived on P.E.I. through the PNP program.

Stu.neatby@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/stu_neatby

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