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Saskatchewan’s new immigration strategy strengthens communities and the economy

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The Canadian province of Saskatchewan has been steadily building its reputation as an immigration destination in Canada.  Significant investments have been made to its Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) and towards immigrant settlement services in recent years, helping to develop a strong immigrant community in the province.  Now, the Government of Saskatchewan has unveiled a new immigration strategy to build on this progress, entitled “Strengthening our Communities and Economy.”

The focus of Saskatchewan‘s new strategy is to improve upon current immigration programs by undertaking new initiatives to create jobs and renew communities.

In 2009-2010, the province is investing an additional $2.69 million in immigration, to better attract entrepreneur immigrants and skilled workers, and to provide them with enhanced settlement and integration supports, both before and after their arrival.

Saskatchewan’s labour market maintains a great need for skilled workers from abroad, despite the global economic climate.  The provincial economy has remained solid, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

To keep it going strong, an element of the new program is to encourage newcomers to establish or purchase businesses in the province through the Saskatchewan’s Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) Entrepreneur category.  The program will be divided into several streams, focusing on participation with science and technology-based companies and with the farming industry.  It will also feature a component that will link Saskatchewan business owners who are nearing retirement with immigrants who have business ownership and management experience.

“We’re working to sustain our economic momentum and secure Saskatchewan’s position as a leader in Canada and around the world,” said Saskatchewan’s Immigration Minister Rob Norris.  “By welcoming newcomers who are ready to invest in Saskatchewan businesses, we are investing in our province’s future.”

109 entrepreneurial immigrants were nominated by Saskatchewan in 2008-2009, whose investments are expected to generate 400 new jobs in the province.  The SINP plans to nominate 250 entrepreneurs over the next two years, to create approximately 900 new jobs.

A new application process will be introduced for the Entrepreneur stream of the SINP in October 2009.

In terms of strengthening communities, the new strategy will facilitate access to pre-arrival information and planning services, as well as connections to community services and specialized language and employment assistance in Saskatchewan.  Plans are also underway to assist immigrants with Saskatchewan’s credential recognition systems.

“Ultimately, our plan is about neighbours, not numbers,” said Minister Norris.  “Immigrants do much more than increase our population; they help create more diverse, dynamic and cosmopolitan communities, while strengthening our labour market, stimulating economic investment and creating jobs.”

Saskatchewan’s Immigrant Nominee Program has grown significantly in recent years.  Last year, the province nominated 2,914 individuals for fast-track Canadian Permanent Residency.  This year, they have increased their targets to 3,400 nominees, which, with spouses and children, would translate to nearly 10,000 new Saskatchewan residents in 2009-2010.

“Quite simply, this new strategy draws on our multicultural heritage to strengthen our communities, create greater prosperity and foster new jobs in Saskatchewan,” said Minister Norris.  “When you can bring people together with different backgrounds, cultures, world views and ideas, they all have something special to contribute.”

Largely thanks to immigration, the population of Saskatchewan is currently at its highest number in over two decades, at 1,027,092.  The provincial population grew by 3,282 people in the first quarter of 2009, nearly 2,000 of which were from outside Canada.