Dear Mr. Volpe:
I have been following with interest the articles that the “Corriere Canadese” has been publishing regularly on the subject of the Canadian immigration system. A propos, I would like to contribute to the conversation.
Since June 2016, I have had the pleasure and honour of serving as Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. I am honoured to have been selected for this role, by our Premier Kathleen Wynne, in a country and province where immigration has always played a vital role in building and shaping our history and society. Ontario is a highly sought after destination for individuals across the world looking to emigrate – for a new beginning. Whether they are seeking investment or employment opportunities, pursuing higher education or starting a new life within a safe and inclusive society, Ontario provides all this and more.
I assure you that the Ontario Government is working very hard -- both on its own and in partnership with the federal government -- to continue to support new immigrants through language training and settlement services, while attracting the skilled workers needed to keep Ontario competitive within today’s global economy.
Being an immigrant myself and having had the privilege to serve my community and our society, first in broadcasting, then as an MPP and now as a Minister, I strongly believe that immigrants are the thread that together weave the fabric that is our nation. Ontario is in fierce competition with other countries and provinces to attract and retain the global talent it needs to grow, innovate and succeed in the global economy and create high quality jobs for the people of Ontario.
It is my goal, through the negotiation of the next Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement – which has not been renewed since 2011 - that Ontario establishes an immigration partnership with the federal government comparable to the Atlantic Provinces. It is imperative that an agreement of this nature is established as to recognize the specific needs of this province – the economic engine of our great country. Since I became a minister, I have wasted little time in engaging both the previous and current Federal Ministers of Immigration, through conferences, trade missions, Federal/Provincial/Territorial and bi-lateral meetings. I am confident that the process that our two governments are engaged in, will result in a new Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement that will usher in a new era of co-operation on immigration issues such as selection, settlement and integration programs for years to come. Such a new deal would bring immense benefit to both Ontario and the rest of Canada.
While I continue to endeavour in earnest to secure this agreement, our government is also taking strong action on its own, through my Ministry. We are modernizing our flagship immigration program: the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). While the program’s allocation is modest in comparison to the number of overall landings to the province and only allows Ontario to nominate individuals for federal consideration, this fast growing program is helping us to build a skilled workforce and contribute to an inclusive economy. Ontario’s allocation for this program is determined by the federal government and is set at 6,000 for 2017, the highest allocation among the provinces tied only with British Colombia. This year’s increase of 500 nominations over last year’s allocation, demonstrates that the federal government has a great deal of confidence in our program. I am committed to continue to advocate for future increases to the program’s allocation and a greater share of economic immigration to Ontario.
My Ministry has been working diligently to further enhance the various streams within the OINP, moving program applications completely online. This provides, for example, international students better service and certainty with the ability to track the status of an application online. Connecting with and guiding employers to the streams within the program, that will assist in attracting and obtaining the talent needed to successfully compete in a 21st century economy. We are launching new OINP economic streams that will meet the professional, managerial and skilled trades needs of Ontario employers when they need it. These are some of the ways the new Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is emerging as a strong and effective immigration selection tool that will help us compete for years to come.
Ontario has always been a welcoming community for immigrants, and we recognize the valuable contributions made by all immigrants, to our social and economic prosperity. My vision aims to build on this success. I will continue to support the immigration of people from all over the world, including immigration from the countries whose populations have historically contributed to the immigration of this great province. Ontario, both on our own, and in concert with the federal government, remains fully committed to attracting the social and economic immigration we need to build on and help Ontario grow.
Minister of Citizenship