CHESTERMERE, AB (February 25, 2019): United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney today announced that a UCP government will launch a new Alberta Advantage Immigration Strategy designed to help reignite the provincial economy.
“The UCP would consult with employers, settlement organizations, experts and immigrants themselves, and would study best practices in other provinces. Our goal is to end large backlogs, speed up processing, proactively attract talented newcomers from overseas, welcome entrepreneurs, and encourage settlement in rural Alberta.”
Kenney began unveiling aspects of the strategy, including a focus on attracting entrepreneurs to invest in Alberta and create jobs here, and a special program to help revitalize rural communities.
“For Alberta to grow and prosper, for us to renew the Alberta Advantage, we will need the hard work, skills and entrepreneurship of newcomers,” said Kenney. “Meanwhile, one of the biggest challenges facing rural communities today is population decline, which often means a succession crisis when retiring business owners cannot find interested buyers. Through the Rural Entrepreneur Immigration Program, we will tackle these two challenges at the same time.”
Under the Rural Entrepreneur Immigration Program, prospective immigrants able to meet minimum net worth and investment thresholds, who are prepared to live and actively own and manage a business in any of Alberta’s eligible small towns and villages, would be paired with interested communities. With community referral, they could be nominated for the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program to obtain permanent residency within Canada’s immigration system.
“Alberta has a long history of attracting entrepreneurial immigrants who go on to be very successful, creating jobs for others and bringing growth to Alberta,” said Kenney. “This program would bring newcomers to smaller communities, in some cases buying existing businesses, in others starting new ones. Everybody wins.”
Kenney also announced that as part of its immigration overhaul, a UCP government would launch the Rural Renewal Program, modeled after a highly successful initiative in Manitoba.
“Our goal is to match Manitoba’s success in having 20 per cent of its newcomers settle in rural communities. We can do that by inviting municipalities to become partners in recruiting and retaining talented newcomers to help revitalize their communities,” Kenney said.
The Rural Renewal Program would grant extra points in the Express Entry Immigration system, and faster processing under the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program for applicants sponsored by a participating local community. “This is how Morden, Manitoba doubled its population in the past decade. Our goal to see at least 32,000 hard working newcomers help to bring new life to rural communities through our Rural Renewal Program over the next four years.”
As a federal cabinet minister, UCP Leader Kenney was Canada’s longest-serving immigration minister. He led profound reforms to the way immigration was handled, leading the National Post to call him “likely Canada’s best immigration minister, ever.”
Under Kenney’s leadership:
- Immigration backlogs were slashed.
- Wait-times for economic immigrants dropped from an average of seven years to less than one year.
- Immigrants were better matched with employers, leading to higher incomes while addressing skill shortages.
- Funding for settlement services for newcomers was doubled
- The security and integrity of the system was strengthened, with crackdowns on immigration fraud, human smuggling, fake refugee claims, and crooked immigration consultants.
- Immigration levels to Alberta doubled from 2007 to 2014, partly by Kenney quadrupling Alberta’s Immigrant Nominee Program quota from 1,200 to 5,000 certificates.
Today’s announcement is the first installment in the UCP’s Alberta Advantage Immigration Strategy. More details will be released in the days to come.