Quebec immigration deal irks Saskatchewan premier
Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall at the Legislative Assembly in Regina on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 10:21PM EST
Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan is criticizing a federal decision to axe the Immigrant Investor Program for all provinces except Quebec.
Wall said that the program – which offered resident visas for those investing $800,000 and having a net worth of $1.6 million - has helped attract over $160 million investments that have helped ease his province’s housing shortage.
The program has been on hiatus since 2012 and was officially abolished in the most recent federal budget handed down Tuesday.
Quebec’s program operates separately from the rest of Canada’s and will remain in place, a fact that irked Wall.
The premier said it's not acceptable for Ottawa to take one set of actions for the rest of Canada and a separate one for Quebec.
"Frankly, if we could get the same deal as Quebec, we would pursue it and ... I think we'll ask for that," he said.
"I have a feeling though that the answer will be no. Because we have seen in this country — notwithstanding what party is in power in Ottawa — a difference in the treatment when it comes to the delivery of programs or public services, or in this case immigrant investment, a different treatment for the province of Quebec than what the rest of us face.
"I'm not sure why again Quebec is going to continue to issue passports for immigrant investors while we cannot. It is a Canadian passport, not a Quebec passport. So if they have that right, so should we," Wall said.
Federal Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a news release that the program provided limited economic benefit to Canada. He said the government will replace it with other pilot programs that ensure immigrants who come to Canada "deliver meaningful benefits" to the economy.
Alexander did not want to be interviewed, but in an email said Quebec has autonomy on immigration.
"Yes, Quebec has its own program — the QIIP — but we all need to understand that Quebec has had autonomy on immigration — on the selection of immigrants not on issuing visas or passports — since 1991 and it will be up to Quebec to determine the future of that program, but the Quebec program is not achieving its objectives and in the case of Saskatchewan there is little or no evidence that any immigrant investors whose money was benefiting Saskatchewan to some extent were actually coming to Saskatchewan.
"We think people across Canada understand when abuse and fraud in immigration programs needs to be addressed."