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2004-10

IMMIGRATION MINISTERS SIGN LETTER OF INTENT FOR A CANADA–ONTARIO IMMIGRATION AGREEMENT

TORONTO, May 7, 2004 — Citizenship and Immigration Canada Minister Judy Sgro and Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Marie Bountrogianni announced today that they have signed a Letter of Intent that paves the way for municipalities to have a voice in immigration issues in negotiations toward a Canada–Ontario immigration agreement.

“This is a very important first step. Not only have we begun a new partnership with Ontario but we have also recognized the importance of cities and the urban reality of immigration,” said Minister Sgro.

“The McGuinty government is delivering on our commitment to partner with the Government of Canada and involve municipalities in immigration discussions, since their communities make up the front line for newcomers trying to integrate into Ontario’s society and economy,” said Ms. Bountrogianni. “With all three levels of government working together, I am confident that we will arrive at an agreement that effectively meets Ontario’s needs and serves newcomers well.”

Key elements of the Letter of Intent include commitments to form a number of committees. A steering committee co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration will oversee the negotiations. A finance committee will examine and make recommendations on federal funding levels required to support the social and economic integration of immigrants in Ontario. In addition, a municipal committee will develop joint protocols for municipal participation in immigration issues.

Ministers Sgro and Bountrogianni jointly consulted with 10 municipal leaders in February, in preparation for negotiations on the Canada–Ontario agreement. The federal and provincial deputy ministers and a representative from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) will co-chair the municipal committee.

“Municipal government is happy to participate with the other orders of government in discussions on immigration issues that will affect the services we provide newcomers in our local communities,” said Ann Mulvale, President of the AMO. “The full range of municipal interests—from settlement funding to attracting newcomers—is part of this. We are confident that the municipal role will contribute to a more meaningful agreement.”

Ontario receives almost 60 percent of Canada’s immigrants, but is the only province without an immigration agreement with the Government of Canada. About 80 percent of the over 130,000 newcomers to Ontario each year settle in the Greater Toronto Area. Another 22,000 immigrants settle in communities such as Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor, London and the Greater Niagara Region.

The Letter of Intent also allows the steering committee to form subcommittees to develop agreements relating to consultation, information and research; settlement and integration services; expedited entry of certain types of economic immigrants; and the provision of information for prospective and new immigrants to Canada.

Canada and Ontario have agreed to make all reasonable efforts to complete negotiations for an immigration agreement within 12 months of the signing of the Letter of Intent.

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For media information:

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

James Ip
Minister’s Office
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
(416) 325-6207

Elaine Thompson
Communications Branch
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
(416) 314-6401

Visit Ontario Internet site at: www.gov.on.ca/citizenship

>>> Letter of Intent with respect to a Canada–Ontario Immigration Agreement