Federal stalling leads to expiry of immigration agreement

Dr. ERIC HOSKINS, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

On March 31, Ontario’s immigration agreement with the federal government expired.

For months, the McGuinty government has been fighting for a new deal from the Harper government – one that would treat Ontario’s newcomers fairly and give them the support and services they need to find jobs here in Ontario, and contribute to our province’s economy.

We have been fighting for our newcomers because we know that immigration is an economic imperative. We value all of our newcomers, and we want to ensure that they have the opportunity to succeed in Ontario.

Unfortunately, when the Harper government finally came to the negotiating table, they were completely inflexible on all of the points that Ontario raised on behalf of our newcomers, and their inflexibility is the reason we couldn’t reach a deal before the federal election.

The federal Conservatives unilaterally imposed a $44 million cut to settlement services in Ontario that help our newcomers adjust to life in their new home, find jobs and learn a new language. This cut comes on top of a promised $207 million that the Harper government failed to spend on services that help Ontario’s newcomers succeed.

The Harper government has refused to reach a new immigration deal that treats Ontario and our newcomers the same way they treat newcomers in provinces like British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec.

For example, in Quebec the Harper government spends one-and-a-half times more per immigrant than for a newcomer in Ontario. That funding goes toward settlement and training programs – programs that help newcomers succeed. Ontario is fighting for a deal that sees the federal government treat our newcomers fairly. But Prime Minister Harper won’t agree.

A few months ago, Canadians learned that the federal government planned to significantly reduce the number of federal Skilled Workers it would admit to Canada, as well as reducing the number of families it would re-unite by admitting parents and grandparents. The Harper Conservatives made these decisions without consulting Ontario, and they are decisions that hurt our newcomers and hurt Ontario’s economic future.

We need a stronger voice so that we can stand up for Ontario’s newcomers on the issue of selection, but Prime Minister Harper won’t agree.

We are proud of our diversity here in Ontario. We are proud of each and every one of the immigrants who have chosen to come to Ontario to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Our newcomers deserve to be treated fairly by the Harper government. And even though the Harper Conservatives have let Ontario’s agreement expire, the McGuinty government will keep fighting for our newcomers. We will keep fighting for a deal that treats our newcomers fairly, and that helps secure Ontario’s economic future.

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