Ending the Canada-BC Immigration Agreement – Why Change a Winning Formula?

Vancouver – BC’s immigrant service providers are dismayed about Citizenship and
Immigration Canada’s surprise April 12 announcement that it is unilaterally terminating the Canada-BC Immigration Agreement, which gives BC the ability to develop and deliver immigrant settlement and integration programming based on unique provincial dynamics.
CIC Minister Jason Kenney recognizes that BC has developed world-leading programs through the WelcomeBC framework to effectively support immigrant attachment to our communities and labour markets, and to build our collective capacities to be welcoming to new residents from around the globe. The CIC announcement, which took BC’s government and service providers
by complete surprise, will claw back federal control of BC immigrant service.
CIC states that the change is being made to ensure there are comparable services for
immigrants in each province and territory. “There are no indicators that reasonably comparable immigrant services are not already being provided to newcomers across Canada”, said AMSSA Executive Director Lynn Moran. “If anything BC is slightly surpassing other provinces in the range and quality of immigrant services, so we aren’t clear what CIC wants to achieve here.”
“Continued immigration to BC, and continued effectiveness in ensuring immigrants connect with our communities and labour markets, particularly through language training, are key to our economic and social future”, observed ELSA Net Executive Director Brenda Lohrenz. “BC stands to lose much in this surprising CIC-determined shift, which isn’t about costs-savings.”
The CIC office that will oversee BC immigrant services will be located in Calgary, Alberta.
CIC is combining BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, The Yukon and the Northwest Territories into a new ‘Western Canada’ region. BC is by far the biggest recipient of immigrants of any of the provinces and territories within this new CIC ‘super-region’, and is the third highest provincial recipient of immigrants in Canada.
Ontario is the highest immigrant-receiving province, and will remain a single CIC region.
Quebec, the second highest receiving province, will retain full autonomy over immigrant services. BC will be the only one of the ‘Big Three’ immigrant-receivers managed externally.
“This will ultimately have a negative impact on BC communities which have been working effectively within the current system to benefit from immigration,” observed Brenda Lohrenz. “BC has reached its status of immigrant service excellence through strong collaborative connections between government, communities, service providers, businesses, and other BC stakeholders”, concluded Lynn Moran. “It is hard to imagine how those connections will continue under this new CIC mega-region structure controlled from Calgary and Ottawa.”