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Sask. immigration draws based on specific countries of origin could be 'problematic': advocate


Saskatchewan's shift to drawing immigrants from specific, mostly-European nations, could be "problematic," according to the head of an organization that works with newcomers to the province.

On Aug. 16, the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) announced six draws for 642 applicants from eight countries – seven of which are located in Europe. Typically the program's draws have not been targeted at specific countries and only weighed a candidate's credentials.

“We need to make sure that we are not selecting people based on who’s already here,” said Rhonda Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan.

“I think that this is where it could be perhaps problematic. In our communities, we value everybody’s contributions and not just those who are of European heritage.”

Despite the change, she said the organization is still feeling positive about SINP and believes the intent of policymakers is good.

The approach taken in the recent SINP draw also runs counter to how immigration is traditionally approached in Canada.

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) tool is used to rank applicants on Canada’s Express Entry pool – regardless of where an applicant is residing.

According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Immigration – the list of countries for the latest draw is not final and applications to the program are still accessible in countries not on the latest list.

“The initial reaction is that this was excluding participation in the broader category which is not the case and because our allocation is growing,” Deputy Minister of Immigration and Career Training Richelle Bourgoin said.

Bourgoin said candidates recruited under the new approach, which she calls a "pilot program" will account for five to 10 per cent of the program's total intake.

“It doesn’t take away the opportunity for anyone from any country around the world who meets the program criteria to be drawn to make an application and if they meet the criteria to come.”

In 2023, the program has allocated 7,250 spots for applicants. The total will increase to 8,000 next year.

The countries highlighted in the latest draws were Ireland, Poland, Czechia, Germany, Lithuania, Slovakia, Ukraine and India.

With files from Hallee Mandryk. Top Stories

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