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Tories, Green leader call for P.E.I. government to release internal PNP review

Opposition leader James Aylward is shown in the P.E.I. legislature on Wednesday. (Mitch MacDonald/The Guardian)
Opposition leader James Aylward is shown in the P.E.I. legislature on Wednesday. (Mitch MacDonald/The Guardian)

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Both Opposition parties are calling on government to publicize the results of an internal review of the Provincial Nominee Program performed earlier this year.

On Tuesday, questions about allegations of abuse within the PNP that surfaced over the last week in media reports by The Canadian Press dominated question period. In response to the concerns, Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald said improvements have been made to the Provincial Nominee Program following a ‘full review’ of the program done about five or six months ago.

Opposition leader James Aylward began question period Wednesday requesting that MacDonald table a copy of this review.

MacDonald explained this review was done “in house” because government felt it could be doing more to improve immigration to the province.

“We felt if we could take that and make it better, that’s what we’re going to do and that’s exactly what we did.”

But he did not directly respond to the request to table the review.

Related: Calls for 'full scale, top-to-bottom review' of P.E.I. PNP dominate question period

Later, Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker also asked for the results of this review to be made public.

He also requested information about how government monitors the outcomes and performance of the Provincial Nominee Program.

“I’m wondering what this review says about the efficacy of the program in achieving its intended outcomes,” Bevan-Baker said.

“What are the key outcomes of the PN program and how did the review rate the program’s performance on these outcomes?”
Again, MacDonald did not commit to tabling details about the internal review, but instead defended the integrity of the program and the immigrants who participate in it.

“We’re trying build an immigration portfolio that is strong and sustainable for a number of years. And I think we’re getting there,” MacDonald said.

“We’re shining a light on individuals and businesses that I don’t think it’s fair to paint them all with the same brush. We have some extremely good immigration businesses that have opened up and are contributing to the economy of P.E.I.”

Related: Foreign students allege abuse of P.E.I. business immigration system

The concerns about the Provincial Nominee Program that have been raised revolve mainly around the fact a majority of applicants to the program are defaulting on their $150,000 business deposits because they are not meeting the terms of their escrow agreements with the province.

Allegations have also surfaced about some PNP businesses that employ international students who are asking them to pay back a portion of their wages to lower their business costs.

MacDonald has said his department would fully investigate any complaint that comes in about the program, but so far no one has lodged any official complaint to government about the PNP.

 

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

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