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2004-06

CANADA AND BRITISH COLUMBIA SIGN NEW IMMIGRATION AGREEMENT

VANCOUVER, April 5, 2004 — Judy Sgro, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and Murray Coell, Minister of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services for British Columbia, signed a new immigration agreement today.

“This agreement reinforces our commitment to continue our successful partnership with British Columbia on immigration matters and our desire to see all regions of Canada benefit from immigration,” said Minister Sgro.

“Today’s renewed agreement offers a stronger partnership and potential for initiatives to further maximize the benefits of immigration,” said Minister Coell. “It will benefit immigrants, their families and communities and help us build a stronger economy for all British Columbians.”

The agreement for Canada–British Columbia Cooperation on Immigration defines the respective roles and responsibilities of Canada and British Columbia related to immigrants and temporary residents who want to come to British Columbia under the provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The agreement establishes a framework for the governments of Canada and British Columbia to develop new initiatives to meet regional immigration needs, improve the integration of immigrants, encourage foreign students to choose British Columbia and address barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials. Key elements of the original agreement signed in 1998 remain, including a commitment by British Columbia to design and deliver settlement services and participate in the Provincial Nominee Program, which gives provinces and territories the authority to identify and nominate immigrants to fill their specific regional and local needs.

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For more information (media only):

Simone Mac Andrew
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 954-1064

Claire Despins
Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 941-7035

Marisa Adair
Communications Director
Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services
(250) 953-3677

Visit the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services Web site at:
www.gov.bc.ca/mcaws.

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BACKGROUNDER

Agreement for Canada–British Columbia Cooperation on Immigration

The Agreement for Canada–British Columbia Cooperation on Immigration defines the respective roles and responsibilities related to immigrants and temporary residents destined for British Columbia under the provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The agreement recognizes the importance of immigration to British Columbia’s economic and social development, and commits the two levels of government to work together on the recruitment, selection, admission and control of immigrants, refugees, international students and temporary workers who settle in British Columbia. It replaces an earlier framework immigration agreement, signed in 1998 and extended in May 2003. It will remain in force for five years.

All streams of immigration to British Columbia are recognized in this new agreement. It introduces new objectives related to regional immigration, the recognition of foreign credentials and the development of official-language, minority communities. It allows for greater provincial flexibility in planning for immigration levels and responding creatively to emerging needs. The agreement maintains and strengthens the Provincial Nominee Program and reaffirms primary provincial settlement and integration responsibilities.

Among other things, the agreement addresses the following issues.

Settlement of immigrants and refugees
The agreement reaffirms British Columbia’s full responsibility for the delivery of settlement services to immigrants in the province. In 2004-2005, British Columbia will receive $36.4 million in funding to support the design, administration and delivery of settlement and integration services. Canada will also allocate to British Columbia a minimum of $735,000 per year in 2004-2005 and the four subsequent years, to develop and implement labour market levels of language training for adult immigrants and refugees.

Immigration programs and levels planning
The agreement reinforces the provincial role in immigration levels planning in coordination with the federal government. In keeping with shared responsibilities, the federal government will take into account British Columbia’s demographic, social and economic objectives and needs when developing the Multi-Year Immigration and Refugee Plan, tabled in Parliament each year, as well as general immigration policy. The agreement provides British Columbia with opportunities to influence federal selection policies and immigration levels planning decisions through bilateral and multilateral consultations.

The federal government will continue to establish national immigration standards and objectives and determine who is admissible to Canada.

Recognition of foreign credentials
The governments of Canada and British Columbia will work cooperatively to develop strategies for the recognition of qualifications that immigrants bring to Canada. The two levels of government will cooperate in planning and implementing promotion and recruitment activities abroad, so that immigrants have appropriate and targeted information related to the assessment and recognition of international qualifications before coming to Canada.

Provincial Nominee Program
The PNP continues as an important mechanism for increasing the economic and social benefits of immigration to British Columbia, based on the province’s economic priorities. The PNP also encourages and supports balanced growth through regional development and takes into account the importance of encouraging the development of minority official-language communities.

Under the PNP, British Columbia can identify an agreed number of economic immigrants who will make significant contributions to British Columbia’s economic development. Following British Columbia’s selections, the federal government will conduct security, criminal record and medical checks, as well as issuing immigrant visas.

Francophone minority communities
The agreement recognizes the importance of encouraging the development of British Columbia’s Francophone minority-language community through immigration. Under the agreement, the province will consult representatives of British Columbia’s Francophone community on recruitment initiatives for the PNP and settlement service delivery, as appropriate.

Enhanced language training
The governments of Canada and British Columbia have agreed to develop and implement labour market levels of language training for adult immigrants and refugees, including job-specific language training, to facilitate their effective participation in Canada’s economic and social life.

International students
The governments of Canada and British Columbia will develop and implement pilot projects to attract more international students to British Columbia institutions. The pilots will facilitate the processing of students and improve their employment opportunities after graduation.

Information sharing and research
The agreement provides for sharing information and cooperating on research related to immigration, settlement and integration. Specific mechanisms for sharing and distributing data on immigrant landings are outlined.

Consultation
The governments of Canada and British Columbia will consult each other on existing and emerging immigration issues, and a joint coordinating committee will continue to discuss implementation and other matters related to the agreement.